BACKGROUND - Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) constitutes 0.5% of childhood malignancies and exhibits poor prognosis. Complete tumor extirpation either by partial liver resection (LR) or liver transplantation (LT) is the only curative treatment. Due to the poor initial outcomes of LT, LR has remained the mainstay of treatment for all but select children fulfilling the Milan criteria (originally designed for adults).
METHODS - We conducted a retrospective cohort study of pediatric HCC patients (younger than 18 years of age) registered in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database between 2004 and 2015. Survival analysis was performed by means of Kaplan-Meier methods, 2-sided stratified log-rank tests, and Cox regression models.
RESULTS - Of 127 children with HCC, 46 did not undergo operation (36.2%), 32 underwent LT (25.2%), and 49 underwent LR (38.6%). Using the Kaplan-Meier method, the 5-year cancer-specific survival (CSS) rates for LT and LR were 87% and 63%, respectively. LT exhibited superior CSS vs LR (log-rank, p = 0.007). For T1 stage, LT showed equivalent CSS compared with LR (log-rank, p = 0.23), and for T2 and T3 stage, LT exhibited superior CSS (log-rank, p = 0.047 and p = 0.01, respectively). On multivariable Cox regression analysis, T3/T4 stage (adjusted hazard ratio 13.63; 95% CI, 2.9 to 64.07; p = 0.001), and LR (adjusted hazard ratio 7.51; 95% CI, 2.07 to 27.29; p = 0.002) were found to be independently associated with cancer-specific mortality. Fibrolamellar histology and lymph node status were not found to be associated with mortality.
CONCLUSIONS - Our findings suggest that children diagnosed with nonmetastatic advanced-stage HCC have a favorable prognosis after LT compared with LR. Early inclusion of an LT consultation after the initial diagnosis is warranted, especially in children with unresectable HCC or when complete tumor extirpation with LR is not feasible.
Copyright © 2020 American College of Surgeons. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.