Liver cancer is an uncommon indication for liver transplantation in children. Between 1986 and 1995, five children with hepatocellular cancer (HCC), three with hepatoblastoma (HEP), and one with sarcoma were referred to the transplant service. All nine tumors were considered unresectable. Four of the five children with HCC had underlying predisposing conditions (2 hepatitis B, 1 biliary atresia, 1 tyrosinemia). Preoperative evaluation of all patients included careful radiological screening and pretransplantation laparotomy for staging. Two patients with HCC were excluded from further consideration because of intraabdominal spread. Three patients had transplantation (mean age, 6.0 ± 7.1 years), and all have survived for 1 to 5 years with no evidence of recurrence. Three patients with HEP were assessed (mean age 2.0 ± 1 years); two had stage 4 disease and one had stage 3. All three received preoperative chemotherapy. The two with stage 4 had thoracotomies as part of their assessment. Two of three patients had a significant decrease in the size of the primary tumor during the waiting period. These two patients and one with stage 4 disease have survived more than 2 years since transplantation, with no recurrence. The third patient had recurrence within 2 months of transplantation. In summary, liver transplantation should be considered for all children who have unresectable hepatic malignancies, given the 83% survival rate and no evidence of tumor recurrence. Stage 4 disease in HEP does not necessarily exclude patients from transplantation. Early referral is encouraged so that tumor spread beyond the liver is minimized.
- Liver transplantation
- malignant liver tumors
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health