Outcomes in Elderly Patients Undergoing Liver Transplantation Compared with Liver-Directed Ablative Therapy in Early-Stage Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Malay B. Shah, Diego A. Villagomez Rubio, Gabriel Orozco, Siddharth Desai, Alexandre Ancheta, Meera Gupta, Xiaonan Mei, B. Mark Evers, Roberto Gedaly, Robert M. Cannon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) is the accepted treatment in patients with unresectable, early-stage hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in the setting of cirrhosis. Due to increasing waitlist demand for OLT, determining optimal groups for transplant is critical. Elderly patients are known to have poorer postoperative outcomes. Considering the effectiveness of liver-directed therapies for HCC, we sought to determine whether elderly patients received survival benefit from OLT over liver-directed therapy alone. Study Design: The National Cancer Database participant use file was used to analyze data between 2004 and 2017. Only patients ≥70 years of age who received OLT or liver-directed therapy alone were included. Patients with alpha-fetoprotein >500 ng/mL or missing alpha-fetoprotein values were excluded. Baseline demographic variables, model for end-stage liver disease score, and overall survival from time of diagnosis were collected. Descriptive statistics, Kaplan-Meier survival, Cox proportional hazards model, and propensity score matching were used. Results: A total of 2,377 patients received ablative therapy alone, and 214 patients received OLT. Multivariable analysis and Kaplan-Meier showed that OLT conferred a significant survival benefit compared to liver-directed therapy alone. Age was also associated with a yearly 3% increase in risk of mortality. Propensity-matched analysis adjusting also demonstrated a significant survival benefit for elderly patients receiving OLT compared to liver-directed therapy alone. Conclusion: Despite increased age and associated comorbidities being factors associated with poor outcomes, OLT confers a survival advantage compared to liver-directed ablative therapies alone in selected elderly patients with HCC. OLT should be offered in medically appropriate elderly patients with HCC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)892-899
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the American College of Surgeons.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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