Novel advancements in the management of hepatocellular carcinoma in 2008

J Hepatol. 2008;48 Suppl 1:S20-37. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2008.01.022. Epub 2008 Feb 12.


New advancements have emerged in the field of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in recent years. There has been a switch in the type of presentation of HCC in developed countries, with a clear increase of tumors <2 cm in diameter as a result of the wide implementation of surveillance programs. Non-invasive radiological techniques have been developed and validated for the diagnosis of small and tiny HCCs. Simultaneously, diagnostic criteria based on molecular profiling of early tumors have been proposed. The current clinical classification of HCC divides patients into 5 stages with a specific treatment-oriented schedule. There is no established molecular classification of HCC, although preliminary proposals have already been published. Advancements in the treatment arena have come from well designed trials. Radiofrequency ablation is currently consolidated as providing better local control of the disease compared with percutaneous ethanol injection. New devices are available to improve the anti-tumoral efficacy of conventional chemoembolization. Sorafenib, a multikinase inhibitor, has shown survival benefits in patients at advanced stages of the disease. This advancement represents a breakthrough in the management of this complex disease, and proves that molecular targeted therapies can be effective in this otherwise chemo-resistant tumor. Consequently, sorafenib will become the standard of care in advanced cases, and the control arm for future trials. Now, the research effort faces other areas of unmet need, such as the adjuvant setting of resection/local ablation and combination therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Benzenesulfonates / therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / classification
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / therapy*
  • Catheter Ablation
  • Combined Modality Therapy / trends
  • Ethanol / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / classification
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Niacinamide / analogs & derivatives
  • Phenylurea Compounds
  • Pyridines / therapeutic use
  • Sorafenib


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Benzenesulfonates
  • Phenylurea Compounds
  • Pyridines
  • Niacinamide
  • Ethanol
  • Sorafenib