Although liver cancer or hepatocellular carcinoma is usually detected at later stages, many patients can still benefit from surgery. When a patient is recommended surgery, one of the common questions is “Which is better, a transplant or a resection (surgery to remove part of the liver)?” Here are the basic factors to be taken into consideration before one decides:
If the tumour has developed in a background of cirrhosis (hepatitis B/C, alcoholic, severe fatty liver), that means the entire liver is damaged. In this situation, a transplant is preferred since the cirrhotic liver will trouble the patient again with liver failure or a new tumour formation. If there is a single tumour, even if large, in an otherwise normal liver, liver resection is a safer and more feasible option. Transplant requires a donor and the expenses can be prohibitive.
In other words, liver resection is a good option for patients with non-cirrhotic livers especially when costs and donor availability is a problem. In the unfortunate event of tumour recurrence after resection, a salvage transplant can be offered to many patients. A hepatobiliary surgeon will be the best guide for patients facing this situation.