Author(s): Schwartz M, Roayaie S, Konstadoulakis M
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Abstract Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) generally develops as a consequence of underlying liver disease, most commonly viral hepatitis. The development of HCC follows an orderly progression from cirrhosis to dysplastic nodules to early cancer development, which can be reliably cured if discovered before the development of vascular invasion (typically occurring at a tumor diameter of approximately 2 cm). The identifiable population at risk makes screening a realistic possibility, and liver imaging is recommended every 6 months for patients with cirrhosis. For patients with preserved liver function and no portal hypertension who develop HCC that is confined to one region of the liver, resection is the preferred treatment. If resection is not possible because of poor liver function, and the HCC is within the Milan criteria (1 nodule > or =5 cm, 2-3 nodules > or =3 cm), liver transplantation is the treatment of choice. To prevent tumor progression while waiting, nonsurgical treatments including percutaneous ethanol injection, radiofrequency ablation, and transarterial chemoembolization are employed, but drop-out from the waiting list remains a problem. Living donor transplantation is an alternative that can eliminate drop-out and enable liver transplantation for patients with HCC whose disease does not fall within the Milan criteria. There is a need for more effective adjuvant therapies after resection and liver transplantation; newer antiangiogenic agents offer hope for improved outcomes in the future.
This article was published in Nat Clin Pract Oncol
and referenced in Journal of Clinical and Experimental Transplantation