Hepatocellular carcinoma: novel molecular approaches for diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy

Annu Rev Med. 2010;61:317-28. doi: 10.1146/annurev.med.080608.100623.


The genomic era is changing the understanding of cancer, although translation of the vast amount of data available into decision-making algorithms is far from reality. Molecular profiling of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common cause of death among cirrhotic patients and a fast-growing malignancy in Western countries, is enabling the advancement of novel approaches to disease diagnosis and management. Most HCCs arise on a cirrhotic liver, and predictably, an accurate genomic characterization will allow the identification of procarcinogenic signals amenable to selective targeting by chemopreventive strategies. Molecular diagnosis is currently feasible for small tumors, but it has not yet been formalized by scientific guidelines. Molecular treatment is a reality: Sorafenib confers unprecedented survival benefits in patients at advanced stages. Genomic information from tumor and nontumoral tissue will aid prognosis prediction and facilitate the identification of oncogene addiction loops, providing the opportunity for more personalized medicine.

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 / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques*
  • Niacinamide / analogs & derivatives
  • Phenylurea Compounds
  • Precision Medicine*
  • Prognosis
  • Pyridines / therapeutic use
  • Sorafenib


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