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, 34 (5), 597-602

Treatment of Hepatocellular Carcinoma


Treatment of Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Álvaro Díaz-González et al. Dig Dis.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) represents the most frequent primary liver cancer. This disease usually arises as a result of a chronic liver disease, but may appear without any underlying disease. In most units, the staging and treatment decision in patients with HCC follows the Barcelona Clínic Liver Cancer (BCLC) strategy. Following this approach, patients diagnosed with HCC are classified according to tumour burden, liver function and ECOG-Performance Status (PS). This stratifies patients according to prognosis and links each stage with the evidence-based treatment approach to be first considered. Patients correspond to BCLC stage 0 (very early) when the tumour burden accounts for just one nodule and it measures 2 cm or less. BCLC stage A includes patients with just one nodule or 3 nodules under 3 cm. Both stages 0 and A gather patients with preserved liver function according to Child-Pugh score, being Child-Pugh A. Patients in BCLC B stage (intermediate stage) are patients with multinodular liver cancer confined to the liver, without extrahepatic disease, ECOG-PS 0 and preserved liver function (Child-Pugh A or B). Patients with portal venous invasion, extrahepatic disease or cancer-related symptoms measured by PS (1-2) and still with preserved liver function correspond to BCLC C (advanced) stage. Finally, patients classified in BCLC stage D are those with a severe alteration of liver function (Child-Pugh C) or severe cancer-related symptoms with PS above 2. In very early and early stages (BCLC 0 and A), treatment options include surgical treatment, ablation and liver transplantation. Intermediate stage (BCLC B) patients should be considered for transarterial chemoembolization. At advanced stage (BCLC C), the recommended treatment is sorafenib. Finally, at the end stage (BCLC D), symptomatic treatment is the suggested option. The treatment stage migration concept refers to patients who at first glance would be treated with the option that corresponds to their BCLC stage but, because of any coexisting comorbidity, technical issue or even treatment failure/progression but still within the original stage cannot be treated by the initial suggested treatment. These patients then move to the treatment that would correspond to the next stage/s.

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