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"If diagnosed early, transplantation is the treatment of choice for patients with liver cancer and advanced cirrhosis," says Paul Thuluvath, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins. Thuluvath emphasises that regular screening of patients with cirrhosis, a risk factor for liver cancer, is needed to detect the cancer early and insure the best possible outcome.
In addition to the favourable five-year survival rates, Thuluvath and colleagues found that survival rates increased steadily over the last decade, suggesting that criteria for patient selection established by other experts may assist physicians in selecting those patients most likely to respond well to the procedure.
Using the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) database, the researchers collected data on 48,887 patients who underwent liver transplantation in the United States between 1987 and 2001. Patients were excluded if they had undergone multiple organ transplantation or re-transplantation, were less than 18 years of age, or lacked survival data.
Of the remaining patients included in the final analysis, 985 had liver transplantation for liver cancer and 33,339 patients had liver transplantation for other reasons (control group). Researchers found significant and steady improvement in survival over time among liver transplant patients with liver cancer, especially in the last five years. Five-year survival improved from 25.3 percent during 1987-1991 to 61.1 percent during 1996-2001.
The study is published in the December 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
MEDICA.de, Source: Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions