Liver Cancer Transplant Surgery

Liver cancer transplant surgery can be a viable treatment option for select patients who have small, localized tumors or masses (early-stage liver cancer) and are otherwise healthy enough to tolerate surgery. Additionally, a transplant may be the only option for a patient who would not have enough healthy liver tissue remaining after surgery to allow for proper function and regeneration. Because a liver transplant patient generally must wait for a matching donor organ, a physician will often recommend alternative treatments, such as radiofrequency tumor ablation or preoperative portal vein embolization, which can be performed in the meantime.

To determine whether a patient is a good candidate for a successful liver cancer transplant, a physician will perform an in-depth assessment based in several key criteria, including the following:

  • If there is one liver tumor, it should be no larger than 8 centimeters in diameter.
  • If there are multiple liver tumors, there should be no more than three, the largest should measure 4.5 centimeters or less in diameter and their combined size should be less than 8 centimeters.
  • The cancer must be confined to the liver and have not spread to other tissues or organs.
  • The patient must not have cirrhosis.

Patients who undergo liver cancer transplant procedures are required to make some lifestyle changes as well. For instance, in order to prevent the body’s immune system from rejecting the new organ, a patient will have to take anti-rejection medications for the rest of his or her life. One possible side effect of these medications is that they can make a patient more susceptible to infection, so careful steps must be taken to protect the patient’s compromised immune system. A patient will also be instructed to closely monitor his or her health for signs of rejection or liver cancer recurrence, and will need to schedule regular check-up visits with his or her transplant team.

In the Gastrointestinal Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center, our multispecialty team of liver cancer experts is dedicated to creating an effective and individualized treatment plan for each patient that will not only address the cancer, but also help reduce any side effects of treatment and enhance the patient’s quality of life. Due in part to our collaborative approach, state-of-the-art equipment and research breakthroughs, Moffitt has been designated a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute – the only one based in Florida.

To discuss liver cancer transplant surgery and other treatment options with the experts at Moffitt, call 1-888-MOFFITT or complete a new patient registration form online. We see patients with and without referrals.