Biomarkers in Hepatocellular Carcinoma: Diagnosis, Prognosis and Treatment Response Assessment

Cells. 2020 Jun 1;9(6):1370. doi: 10.3390/cells9061370.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the main cancer-related causes of death worldwide. Thus, there is a constant search for improvement in screening, diagnosis, and treatment strategies to improve the prognosis of this malignancy. The identification of useful biomarkers for surveillance and early HCC diagnosis is still deficient, with available serum biomarkers showing low sensitivity and heterogeneous specificity despite different cut-off points, even when assessed longitudinally, or with a combination of serum biomarkers. In contrast, HCC biomarkers used for prognostic (when associated with clinical outcomes) or predictive purposes (when associated with treatment response) may have an increased clinical role in the near future. Furthermore, some serum biomarkers are already implicated as a treatment selection tool, whether to provide access to certain therapies or to assess clinical benefit after treatment. In the present review we will discuss the clinical utility and foreseen future of HCC biomarkers implicated in surveillance, diagnosis, prognosis, and post-treatment assessment.

Keywords: biological; liver cancer; markers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / therapy*
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers, Tumor