New research shows cancer patients who undergo liver transplants have better survival rates than those who do not.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins reviewed data on more than 48,000 patients who underwent a liver transplant between 1987 and 2001. More than 900 of the patients underwent a liver transplant for liver cancer, and more than 33,000 of the patients underwent a liver transplant to treat other conditions.
Results of the study show more than 60 percent of liver transplant patients with advanced liver cancer survived after five years, compared to nearly a zero percent survival rate in patients who did not have a transplant. Researchers also found survival rates for liver cancer patients have improved over the last decade. Between 1987 and 1991, patients with liver cancer had a five-year survival rate of about 25 percent. Between 1996 and 2001, liver cancer patients had more than a 60 percent five-year survival rate after transplant.
Researchers say early screening for patients with cirrhosis, which is a risk factor for liver cancer, can help detect the cancer early and ensure a better outcome. Paul Thuluvath, M.D., from Johns Hopkins, says: "This is good news for patients with liver cancer. If diagnosed early, transplantation is the treatment of choice for patients with liver cancer and advanced cirrhosis."