Objective: The aim of this study was to assess serum levels of presurgical α-fetoprotein (AFP) and carbohydrate antigen 19-9 (CA19-9) as prognostic markers in patients with hepatic carcinoma after liver transplantation (LT).
Methods: A total of 226 patients were recruited for the analysis of serum AFP and CA19-9 levels, on the basis of which the tumor marker type (TMT) was defined and evaluated for prognostic prediction. Overall survival (OS) and relapse-free survival (RFS) were analyzed using Kaplan–Meier curves, and univariate and multivariate Cox models.
Results: One-year and 5-year OS were 79.0 and 58.0%, respectively, whereas RFS were 70.3 and 62.2%, respectively, in this cohort of patients. There were six variables predicting both OS and RFS, including TMT, tumor size, number of tumor lesions, extrahepatic or vascular invasion, and histopathological grade. Among these, TMT, tumor size, and extrahepatic invasion were all independent predictors of OS and RFS among these patients. Further, on the basis of TMT, novel LT selection criteria for patients with hepatic carcinoma, which supplemented the Milan criteria, were adopted, because the patients within the Milan criteria (n=107) and those exceeding Milan but fulfilling the proposed criteria (n=30) had similar 5-year OS (77.8 vs. 79.3%, P=0.862) and RFS (85.5 vs. 75.1%, P=0.210) rates.
Conclusion: The data from this study showed that serum levels of preoperative AFP and CA19-9 were able to predict survival of patients with hepatic carcinoma after LT. This study included novel criteria, adding serum AFP and CA19-9 levels to the selection criteria for LT eligibility of patients, in addition to the Milan criteria.