mRECIST for HCC: Performance and novel refinements

J Hepatol. 2020 Feb;72(2):288-306. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2019.09.026.


In 2010, modified RECIST (mRECIST) criteria were proposed as a way of adapting the RECIST criteria to the particularities of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We intended to overcome some limitations of RECIST in measuring tumour shrinkage with local and systemic therapies, and also to refine the assessment of progression that could be misinterpreted with conventional RECIST 1.1, due to clinical events related to the natural progression of chronic liver disease (development of ascites, enlargement of lymph nodes, etc.). mRECIST has served its purpose since being adopted or included in clinical practice guidelines (European, American and Asian) for the management of HCC; it has also been instrumental for assessing response and time-to-event endpoints in several phase II and III investigations. Nowadays, mRECIST has become the standard tool for measurement of radiological endpoints at early/intermediate stages of HCC. At advanced stages, guidelines recommend both methods. mRECIST has been proven to capture higher objective response rates in tumours treated with molecular therapies and those responses have shown to be independently associated with better survival. With the advent of novel treatment approaches (i.e. immunotherapy) and combination therapies there is a need to further refine and clarify some concepts around the performance of mRECIST. Similarly, changes in the landscape of standard of care at advanced stages of the disease are pointing towards progression-free survival as a potential primary endpoint in some phase III investigations, as effective therapies applied beyond progression might mask overall survival results. Strict recommendations for adopting this endpoint have been reported. Overall, we review the performance of mRECIST during the last decade, incorporating novel clarifications and refinements in light of emerging challenges in the study and management of HCC.

Keywords: Endpoints; Liver cancer; Systemic therapies; mRECIST, RECIST, trial design.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / therapy*
  • Chemoembolization, Therapeutic / methods*
  • Combined Modality Therapy / methods
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Progression-Free Survival
  • Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors