Health Discoveries in Liver Cancer

HIV patients frequently drop off liver transplant wait list

January 28, 2011
People with liver cancer who are also infected with the HIV virus are more likely to drop off a waiting list for a liver transplant, although their survival and non-recurrence of cancer after a transplant is the same as other patients, according to a French study.

Published in the February issue of the journal Hepatology, the study found that the drop-out factor was linked to HIV patients' alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) levels, which are often much higher than people who eventually receive a liver transplant. Significant increases of the AFP level in a patient waiting for a liver transplant is a major risk factor for liver cancer recurrence after the transplant occurs.

"Liver transplantation is the optimum treatment for [liver cancer] and can also be considered for controlled HIV-positive patients with liver cancer," said Dr. Rene Adam of Hospital Paul Brousse. "Our study showed that HIV infection impaired the results of liver transplantation on an intent-to-treat basis but exerted no significant impact on overall survival and recurrence-free survival following transplantation."

Within the North Shore-LIJ Health System, a clinical trial is targeting HCC tumors with a combination of radio frequency thermal ablation (RFA), the standard therapy for inoperable patients with liver cancer, and an experimental drug, ThermoDox.
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