What is hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)?

Updated: Jul 31, 2019
  • Author: Daniel R Jacobson, MD, MS; Chief Editor: John Karani, MBBS, FRCR  more...
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Answer

Answer

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a primary malignancy of the liver and occurs predominantly in patients with underlying chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, appearing 20-30 years following the initial insult to the liver. However, 25% of patients have no history of cirrhosis or risk factors for it. The extent of hepatic dysfunction limits treatment options, and as many patients die of liver failure as die from tumor progression. Tumors progress with local expansion, intrahepatic spread, and distant metastases. HCC generally leads to death within 6-20 months. [1, 2, 3]

(See the HCC images below.)

CT scan in the hepatic arterial phase of contrast CT scan in the hepatic arterial phase of contrast enhancement showing neovascularity in a low-density hepatic mass.
Ultrasound shows hyperechoic mass representing hep Ultrasound shows hyperechoic mass representing hepatocellular carcinoma.

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