T2 Hepatocellular Carcinoma Exception Policies That Prolong Waiting Time Improve The Use Of Evidence-based Treatment Practices

Abstract [from journal]

Background: A United Network for Organ Sharing policy change in 2015 created a 6-mo delay in the receipt of T2 hepatocellular carcinoma exception points. It was hypothesized that the policy changed locoregional therapy (LRT) practices and explant findings because of longer expected waiting time.

Methods: Patients transplanted with a first T2 hepatocellular carcinoma exception application between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2014 (prepolicy; N = 6562), and those between August 10, 2015 and December 2, 2019 (postpolicy; N = 2345), were descriptively compared using data from United Network for Organ Sharing.

Results: Median time from first application to transplantation was more homogenous across the US postpolicy, due to greater absolute increases in Regions 3, 6, 10, and 11 (>120 d). During waitlisting, postpolicy candidates received more LRT overall (P < 0.001), with more notable increases in previously short-wait regions. Postpolicy explants were overall more likely to have ≥1 tumor with complete necrosis (23.9 versus 18.4%; P < 0.001) and less likely have ≥1 tumor with no necrosis (32.6% versus 38.5%; P < 0.001). Significant geographic variability in explant treatment response was observed prepolicy with recipients in previously short-wait regions having more frequent tumor viability at transplant. Postpolicy, there were no differences in the prevalence of recipients with ≥1 tumor with 100% or 0% necrosis across regions (P = 0.9 and 0.2, respectively).

Conclusions: The 2015 T2 exception policy has led to reduced geographic variability in the use of pretransplant LRT and in less frequent tumor viability on explant for recipients in previously short-waiting times.