Recent Advances in the Treatment of Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Amit G. Singal; Jorge A. Marrero

Disclosures

Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2010;26(3):189-195. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Abstract

Purpose of review Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth most common tumor worldwide and continues to have a poor prognosis. Despite surveillance efforts, most tumors are diagnosed at late stages. Surgical resection, liver transplantation, and local ablative therapies such as radio frequency ablation offer the chance of a cure for tumors detected at an early stage in well selected patients.
Recent findings The role of adjuvant or neoadjuvant therapy is being investigated, but there is no clear evidence supporting its routine use at this time. Some have proposed expanding size criteria for transplantation or downstaging tumors detected beyond an early stage, although any benefits must be weighed against the harms to others on the waiting list. For intermediate-stage HCC, transarterial chemoembolization is the mainstay of treatment but is only possible in a minority of patients. The role of radiation therapy for these patients continues to be refined with recent advances in technology minimizing its toxicity to surrounding nonmalignant liver. For patients with advanced HCC, sorafenib is the first systemic therapy to significantly prolong survival and is now considered standard of care for patients with Child A cirrhosis and good performance status.
Summary Ongoing trials are evaluating the role of other targeted therapies in patients with advanced HCC.

Introduction

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth most common tumor worldwide, with an increasing incidence in Europe and the United States. It is currently the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide and the leading cause of death in patients with cirrhosis.[1] Patients with HCC continue to have a dismal prognosis, with 1-year and 3-year survival rates of 36 and 17%, respectively.[2] This is in part related to more than two-thirds of tumors being diagnosed at advanced stages,[3,4] as well as a substantial portion of patients with early HCC failing to receive potentially curative treatments.[5] As more therapies are available for patients with HCC, treatment decisions become increasingly complex. The aim of this review is to provide an up-to-date summary of recent advances in the field of HCC.

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