Sex hormones and liver cancer

Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2002 Jul 31;193(1-2):59-63. doi: 10.1016/s0303-7207(02)00096-5.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common malignancy in the world and it usually occurs in individuals with chronic liver disease. The neoplasm is predominant in the male gender, where it is characterized also by a worst prognosis than in females. The pathogenesis of HCC is obscure. Because of its striking male predominance, androgens have been investigated as potential factors able to induce or at least promote hepatic carcinogenesis; this hypothesis has been also supported by the ability of androgens of inducing liver neoplasms in experimental models. On the other hand, due to the fact that HCC occurs predominantly in male cirrhotics who present a characteristic hormone imbalance with a relative hyperestrogenic state, the potential role of estrogen in liver cancer has been studied as well. In this paper, the potential role of sex hormones in liver carcinogenesis has been reviewed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Androgens / adverse effects
  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / etiology*
  • Estrogens / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Liver Diseases / complications
  • Liver Diseases / metabolism
  • Male


  • Androgens
  • Estrogens
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones