The outcomes of liver resection (LR) with a narrow margin in patients with transplantable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) have not been studied. The aim was to assess whether narrow margin following up-front LR impacts the incidence, timing, pattern, and transplantability of tumor recurrence in patients with initially transplantable HCC.
All initially transplantable HCC patients undergoing hepatectomy with either narrow (<10 mm) or wide (≥10 mm) margins from 2007 to 2016 at four Western university centers were compared in terms of recurrence, transplantability of recurrence, recurrence-free survival (RFS), and intention-to-treat overall survival (ITT-OS). Independent predictors of non-transplantability of recurrence were assessed.
This study included 187 patients (narrow group, n = 107 vs. wide group, n = 80). Recurrence was significantly more frequent in the narrow margin group (44% vs. 26%; p = 0.01) with a shorter RFS (p = 0.03). The transplantability of recurrence and ITT-OS were, however, not different between the two groups. The presence of satellite nodules on the resected specimens emerged as the sole independent predictor of non-transplantability of tumor recurrence. The stratification of the analysis according to the presence of cirrhosis achieved essentially the same results as in the whole study population.
Narrow margin was associated with a higher tumor recurrence rate and a shorter RFS for patients with initially transplantable HCC. However, transplantability of recurrence and long-term ITT-OS were not impaired.