Hepatocellular Carcinoma: a Narrative Review on Current Knowledge and Future Prospects

Curr Treat Options Oncol. 2023 Jul;24(7):711-724. doi: 10.1007/s11864-023-01098-9. Epub 2023 Apr 27.

Abstract

Hepatocellular carcinoma is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide and its associated mortality rate is expected to rise within the next decade. The incidence rate of hepatocellular carcinoma varies significantly across countries and the latter can be attributed to the differences in risk factors that are prevalent across different countries. Some of the risk factors associated with hepatocellular carcinoma include hepatitis B and C infections, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and alcoholic liver disease. Regardless of the underlying aetiology, the end result is liver fibrosis and cirrhosis that ultimately progress into carcinoma. The treatment and management of hepatocellular carcinoma is complicated by treatment resistance and high tumor recurrence rates. Early stages of hepatocellular carcinoma are treated with liver resection and other forms of surgical therapy. Advanced stages of hepatocellular carcinoma can be treated with chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and the use of oncolytic viruses and these treatment options can be combined with nanotechnology to improve efficacy and reduce side effects. Moreover, chemotherapy and immunotherapy can be combined to further improve treatment efficacy and overcome resistance. Despite the treatment options available, the high mortality rates provide evidence that current treatment options for advanced-stage hepatocellular carcinoma are not achieving the desired therapeutic goals. Various clinical trials are ongoing to improve treatment efficacy, reduce recurrence rates, and ultimately prolong survival. This narrative review aims to provide an update on our current knowledge and future direction of research on hepatocellular carcinoma.

Keywords: Chemotherapy; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Immunotherapy; Management; Nanotechnology; Oncolytic viruses.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / etiology
  • Chemoembolization, Therapeutic*
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Liver Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Liver Neoplasms* / etiology
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / epidemiology
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / therapy
  • Risk Factors