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Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common primary liver malignancy and is a common indication for liver transplantation. To qualify for liver transplantation, the size and number of tumors must be within established criteria. The Milan criteria is the most well-established of these criteria, however there is evidence these criteria can be safely expanded without affecting outcomes. While awaiting liver transplantation, locoregional therapy can be used as bridging therapy to maintain the tumor burden within criteria. Locoregional therapy can also be used to decrease tumor burden within transplant criteria, a process called downstaging. For tumors <3 cm, thermal ablation—most commonly using a radio-frequency probe—is preferred when feasible and offers tumor control approaching that of resection. Larger or multifocal lesions are usually treated with either trans-arterial chemoembolization or yttrium-90 trans-arterial radioembolization. The choice between these two interventions is generally based on institutional preference as neither has demonstrated survival advantage in the transplant population. However, single center trials show longer time to progression, improved downstaging success, and less microvascular invasion in patients treated with trans-arterial radioembolization. More recently stereotactic body radiation therapy has demonstrated efficacy in patients who are not candidates for other locoregional therapy or have progressed despite prior locoregional therapy.
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