Recent advances in medical management of hepatocellular carcinoma

Hepatol Res. 2019 Jan;49(1):14-32. doi: 10.1111/hepr.13259. Epub 2018 Dec 1.


Transcatheter arterial therapies for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) have developed during the last decade. A fine powder formulation of cisplatin and the new platinum agent miriplatin became standard medicines in addition to anthracyclines in transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE) in Japan. Recent prospective and retrospective studies supported the usefulness of platinum agents as a chemotherapeutic at the time of varied TACE therapy. Although balloon-occluded TACE is an effective therapy for localized HCC and drug-eluting microspheres seemed to show a higher response rate in certain HCCs, the definite advantages of those procedures still remain uncertain. Intermediate stage HCC, or Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer stage B, is regarded as a heterogeneous category with a wide spectrum of tumors and patients, and several subclassifications of the stage have been proposed to show different prognoses; there are also different recommended therapies in each subgroup. Authors have subclassified patients based on combinations of tumor size, tumor number, and liver function, with or without performance status. Because of differences of available medical resources and techniques in treatment procedures between countries, the most ideal and useful subgrouping remains inconclusive at present. Recently, a few systemic chemotherapies proved to be effective for advanced stage HCC in phase III studies: lenvatinib as the first line of therapy, and regorafenib, cabozantinib, and ramucirumab as second-line therapy. Other molecular-targeted and immune-oncological medicines are expected to follow in the near future. Some studies have suggested an advantage of early introduction of molecular-targeted therapy for TACE-resistant HCC in the intermediate stage.

Keywords: Anthracycline; B-TACE; cisplatin; hepatocellular carcinoma; immune oncology; intermediate stage.

Publication types

  • Review