Hepatic precancerous lesions and small hepatocellular carcinoma

Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 2007 Dec;36(4):867-87, vii. doi: 10.1016/j.gtc.2007.08.010.


Precancerous lesions that may be detected in chronically diseased, usually cirrhotic livers, include: clusters of hepatocytes with atypia and increased proliferative rate (dysplastic foci) that usually represent an incidental finding in biopsy or resection specimens; and grossly evident lesions (dysplastic nodules) that may be detected on radiologic examination. There are two types of small hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) (defined as HCC that measures less than 2 cm): early HCC, which is well-differentiated and has indistinct margins; and distinctly nodular small HCC, which is well- or moderately differentiated, and is usually surrounded by a fibrous capsule. Precise diagnosis of precancerous and early cancerous lesions by imaging methods is often difficult or impossible. Detection of a dysplastic lesion in a biopsy specimen is a marker of increased risk for HCC development, and warrants increased surveillance. High-grade dysplastic nodules and small HCCs should be treated by local ablation, surgical resection, or liver transplantation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology*
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology*
  • Severity of Illness Index