A liver transplant is a new hope for patients with liver cancer. However, for eligibility and successful liver transplant, the doctor must diagnose the disease early before it spreads to other body organs outside the liver.
The liver is an important organ. Liver cancer occurs when the cells present in the liver multiply without any control. Liver cancer may be primary or secondary. Primary liver cancer starts to initiate within the liver cell. Secondary liver cancer occurs when cancer that initiates from other body parts spreads into the liver. Various treatment options are available for the management of liver cancer. These include chemotherapy, immunotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, and targeted therapy. In some cases, the doctor may advise the patient to undergo liver transplantation.
Why Liver Transplant Required In Liver Cancer?
Liver cancer is a life-threatening condition. Delay in treatment spreads primary liver cancer to other organs, thereby reducing the chances of survival. Various treatment options manage liver cancer, improve the chances of survival, or extend the life of the patient. However, in some cases, these treatment options are not enough, and the condition of the patients worsens even after exhausting all the conservative treatment options. In such cases, the doctor recommends the patient for liver transplantation. Liver transplantation is the last resort in liver failure or liver dysfunction due to cancer or other diseases.
Not all patients with liver cancer are eligible to undergo a liver transplant. The patients have to fulfill certain criteria for a liver transplant. The criteria used for this purpose are known as the Milan criteria. However, the doctors may extend the criteria for eligibility on a case-to-case basis. The requirements, according to Milan criteria, are:
- If the liver has only one tumor, the size of the tumor should not be greater than 5 cm.
- The maximum number of tumors in the liver should be limited to three.
- If there are three tumors in the liver, no tumor should be of a size greater than 3 cm.
- Liver cancer should not spread outside the liver.
Risk Of Liver Transplant
Liver transplant surgery is a complex process. The complications after the surgery may be due to procedures or the medications used after the transplant surgery. The risk associated with liver transplant surgery include:
- Liver transplant failure due to rejection of a new liver by the immune system.
- Infection due to exposure of internal tissues during surgery.
- Increased risk of bleeding and the formation of clots.
- Reactions to medicines such as bone thinning, headache, and diarrhea.
- Returning of liver diseases.
- Complications due to anesthesia.
- Complications of bile duct
- The problem in the nervous system resulting in confusion or seizures.
A liver transplant is not for all patients with liver cancer. It depends upon the size of the tumor and the stage of the disease. The doctor, after a comprehensive evaluation of cancer, determines the eligibility of a particular patient.