Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a common and rapidly fatal cancer ranking third among the leading causes of cancer-related deaths. Potentially curative therapies like surgery, transplant and ablation are not an option for most patients as they are often diagnosed when the disease is advanced. Liver directed therapy and oral targeted therapies are used in these patients to prolong life and palliate symptoms of the cancer and associated liver failure. Overall survival remains poor and hence health-related quality of life (HRQoL) is of paramount importance in these patients. As novel therapies are developed to improve outcomes, a comprehensive knowledge of available tools to assess impact on QoL is needed. Hence we reviewed all the studies in HCC patients published within the last 13 years from 2001-2013 which assessed HRQoL as a primary or secondary endpoint. A total of 45 studies and 4 meta-analysis were identified. Commonly used tools were European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire-Core 30 (EORTC QLQ-C30) (15 studies) and the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Hepatobiliary Questionnaire (FACT-Hep) (14 studies). Of the 45 publications which incorporated HRQoL as end-point only 24 were clinical trials, 17/24 (71%) assessed systemic therapies while 7/24 (29%) assessed liver-directed therapies. Majority of the publications (trials + retrospective reviews) that had HRQoL as an endpoint in HCC patients were studies evaluating liver-directed therapies (23/45 or >50%). We discuss the measures included in the tools, their interpretation, and summarize existing QoL data that will help design future HCC trials.
Keywords: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC); endpoint; health-related quality of life (HRQoL); trial.