Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Indianapolis IN.
Department of Internal Medicine Indiana University School of Medicine Indianapolis IN.
Black patients have higher mortality and are less likely to receive liver transplantation for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) than white patients. Reasons for these disparities have not been fully elucidated. Comorbid disease, liver disease severity, cirrhosis etiologies, and tumor characteristics were compared between black and white patients with HCC seen at the Indiana University Academic Medical Center from January 2000 to June 2014. Logistic regression was used to investigate the primary outcome, which was liver transplantation. Log-rank testing was used to compare survival between the two groups. Subgroup analysis explored reasons for failure to undergo liver transplantation in patients within Milan criteria. The cohort included 1,032 (86%) white and 164 (14%) black patients. Black and white patients had similar Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) and Child-Pugh scores (CPSs). There was a trend toward larger tumor size (5.3 cm versus 4.7 cm; P = 0.05) in black patients; however, Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC) staging and Milan criteria were similar. Black patients were less likely to undergo liver transplantation than white patients; this was a disparity that was not attenuated (odds ratio [OR], 0.43; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.21-0.90) on multivariable analysis. Substance abuse was more frequently cited as the reason black patients within Milan criteria failed to undergo transplantation compared to white patients. Survival was similar between the two groups. Conclusion: Racial differences in patient and tumor characteristics were small and did not explain the disparity in liver transplantation. Higher rates of substance abuse in black patients within Milan criteria who failed to undergo transplantation suggest social factors contribute to this disparity in this cohort.