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Transplants Help Liver Cancer Patients

New research shows cancer patients who undergo liver transplants have better survival rates than those who do not.//

Researchers from Johns Hopkins reviewed data on more than 48,000 patients who underwent a liver transplant between 1987 and 2001. More than 900 of the patients underwent a liver transplant for liver cancer, and more than 33,000 of the patients underwent a liver transplant to treat other conditions.

Results of the study show more than 60 percent of liver transplant patients with advanced liver cancer survived after five years, compared to nearly a zero percent survival rate in patients who did not have a transplant. Researchers also found survival rates for liver cancer patients have improved over the last decade. Between 1987 and 1991, patients with liver cancer had a five-year survival rate of about 25 percent. Between 1996 and 2001, liver cancer patients had more than a 60 percent five-year survival rate after transplant.

Researchers say early screening for patients with cirrhosis, which is a risk factor for liver cancer, can help detect the cancer early and ensure a better outcome. Paul Thuluvath, M.D., from Johns Hopkins, says: "This is good news for patients with liver cancer. If diagnosed early, transplantation is the treatment of choice for patients with liver cancer and advanced cirrhosis."

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