Patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are assigned model for end stage liver disease (MELD) scores to provide access to liver transplantation (LT). An equitable policy would equate HCC progression beyond acceptable transplantation criteria with death on the waiting list. However, limited information is available regarding this issue. Thus, our aim was to analyze drop-out rates on the waiting list for patients with HCC. Between January 1994 and August 2001, 54 patients with HCC were listed for LT. Patients underwent chemoembolization prior to LT, and were assessed every three months for disease progression until LT. Two patients were stage T1, 45 patients were stage T2, and 7 patients were stage T3 at time of first chemoembolization. Median time was 211 days (range 28-1099 days) for patients that were eventually transplanted. Eight patients were removed from the list. Cumulative probability of drop out on the waiting list, assessed by Kaplan-Meier analysis, was 15% and 25% at 6 and 12 months, respectively. There were no significant differences in age, gender, initial tumor stage, or serum AFP levels in those who eventually underwent LT vs. those who dropped out. In conclusion, neoadjuvant chemoembolization for patients with HCC has a drop-out rate of 15% over 6 months.
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