Etiology, Pathogenesis, Diagnosis, and Practical Implications of Hepatocellular Neoplasms

Cancers (Basel). 2022 Jul 28;14(15):3670. doi: 10.3390/cancers14153670.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a major global contributor of cancer death, usually arises in a background of chronic liver disease, as a result of molecular changes that deregulate important signal transduction pathways. Recent studies have shown that certain molecular changes of hepatocarcinogenesis are associated with clinicopathologic features and prognosis, suggesting that subclassification of HCC is practically useful. On the other hand, subclassification of hepatocellular adenomas (HCAs), a heterogenous group of neoplasms, has been well established on the basis of genotype-phenotype correlations. Histologic examination, aided by immunohistochemistry, is the gold standard for the diagnosis and subclassification of HCA and HCC, while clinicopathologic correlation is essential for best patient management. Advances in clinico-radio-pathologic correlation have introduced a new approach for the diagnostic assessment of lesions arising in advanced chronic liver disease by imaging (LI-RADS). The rapid expansion of knowledge concerning the molecular pathogenesis of HCC is now starting to produce new therapeutic approaches through precision oncology. This review summarizes the etiology and pathogenesis of HCA and HCC, provides practical information for their histologic diagnosis (including an algorithmic approach), and addresses a variety of frequently asked questions regarding the diagnosis and practical implications of these neoplasms.

Keywords: LI-RADS; diagnostic algorithm; frequently asked questions; hepatocellular adenoma; hepatocellular carcinoma; histologic diagnosis; molecular pathology.

Publication types

  • Review

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.