Current Trends and Recent Advances in Diagnosis, Therapy, and Prevention of Hepatocellular Carcinoma

  • Wang, Chun-Hsiang (Department of Hepatogastroenterology, Tainan Municipal Hospital) ;
  • Wey, Keh-Cherng (Department of Hepatogastroenterology, Tainan Municipal Hospital) ;
  • Mo, Lein-Ray (Department of Hepatogastroenterology, Tainan Municipal Hospital) ;
  • Chang, Kuo-Kwan (Department of Hepatogastroenterology, Tainan Municipal Hospital) ;
  • Lin, Ruey-Chang (Department of Hepatogastroenterology, Tainan Municipal Hospital) ;
  • Kuo, Jen-Juan (Department of Hepatogastroenterology, Tainan Municipal Hospital)
  • Published : 2015.05.18


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has been one of the most fatal malignant tumors worldwide and its associated morbidity and mortality remain of significant concern. Based on in-depth reviews of serological diagnosis of HCC, in addition to AFP, there are other biomarkers: Lens culinaris agglutinin-reactive AFP (AFP-L3), descarboxyprothrombin (DCP), tyrosine kinase with Ig and eprdermal growth factor (EGF) homology domains 2 (TIE2)-espressing monocytes (TEMs), glypican-3 (GPC3), Golgi protein 73 (GP73), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and squamous cell carcinoma antigen (SCCA) have been proposed as biomarkers for the early detection of HCC. The diagnosis of HCC is primarily based on noninvasive standard imaging methods, such as ultrasound (US), dynamic multiphasic multidetector-row CT (MDCT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Some experts advocate gadolinium diethyl-enetriamine pentaacetic acid (Gd-EOB-DTPA) MRI and contrast-enhanced US as the promising imaging madalities of choice. With regard to recent advancements in tissue markers, many cuting-edge technologies using genome-wide DNA microarrays, qRT-PCR, and proteomic and inmunostaining studies have been implemented in an attempt to identify markers for early diagnosis of HCC. Only less than half of HCC patients at initial diagnosis are at an early stage treatable with curative options: local ablation, surgical resection, or liver transplant. Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) is considered the standard of care with palliation for intermediate stage HCC. Recent innovative procedures using drug-eluting-beads and radioembolization using Yttrium-90 may exhibit beneficial effects in HCC treatment. During the past few years, several molecular targeted agents have been evaluated in clinical trials in advanced HCC. Sorafenib is currently the only approved systemic treatment for HCC. It has been approved for the therapy of asymptomatic HCC patients with well-preserved liver function who are not candidates for potentially curative treatments, such as surgical resection or liver transplantation. In the USA, Europe and particularly Japan, hepatitis C virus (HCV) related HCC accounts for most liver cancer, as compared with Asia-Pacific regions, where hepatitis B virus (HBV) may play a more important role in HCC development. HBV vaccination, while a vaccine is not yet available against HCV, has been recognized as a best primary prevention method for HBV-related HCC, although in patients already infected with HBV or HCV, secondary prevention with antiviral therapy is still a reasonable strategy. In addition to HBV and HCV, attention should be paid to other relevant HCC risk factors, including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease due to obesity and diabetes, heavy alcohol consumption, and prolonged aflatoxin exposure. Interestingly, coffee and vitamin K2 have been proven to provide protective effects against HCC. Regarding tertiary prevention of HCC recurrence after surgical resection, addition of antiviral treatment has proven to be a rational strategy.


Hepatocellular carcinoma;hepatitis B virus;hepatitis C virus;transarterial chemoembolization


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