Systemic treatment of HCC in special populations

J Hepatol. 2021 Apr;74(4):931-943. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2020.11.026. Epub 2020 Nov 26.


Recent years have seen significant progress in the systemic treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), including the advent of immunotherapy. While several large phase III trials have provided the evidence for a multi-line treatment paradigm, they have focused on a highly selected group of patients by excluding potentially confounding comorbidities. As a result, high quality evidence for the systemic treatment of HCC in patients with various comorbidities is missing. This review summarises current knowledge on the use of approved medicines in patients with HIV, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, fibrolamellar HCC, mixed HCC-cholangiocarcinoma, decompensated cirrhosis (Child-Pugh B and C), a significant bleeding history, vascular invasion or portal vein thrombosis, as well as the elderly, those on haemodialysis, and those after solid organ transplantation. The article highlights relevant knowledge gaps and current clinical challenges. To improve the safety and efficacy of HCC treatment in these subgroups, future trials should be designed to specifically include patients with comorbidities.

Keywords: Autoimmune diseases; Child-Pugh B; Diabetes; Elderly; Fibrolamellar; HIV; Haemodialysis; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Metabolic syndrome; Mixed HCC/CCC; Transplant; Vascular invasion.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / therapy
  • Comorbidity
  • Disease Management
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Liver Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Multiple Chronic Conditions* / classification
  • Multiple Chronic Conditions* / epidemiology
  • Multiple Chronic Conditions* / therapy