Emerging and Clinically Accepted Biomarkers for Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Cancers (Basel). 2024 Apr 10;16(8):1453. doi: 10.3390/cancers16081453.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the third leading cause of cancer-related death and the sixth most diagnosed malignancy worldwide. Serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) is the traditional, ubiquitous biomarker for HCC. However, there has been an increasing call for the use of multiple biomarkers to optimize care for these patients. AFP, AFP-L3, and prothrombin induced by vitamin K absence II (DCP) have described clinical utility for HCC, but unfortunately, they also have well established and significant limitations. Circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), genomic glycosylation, and even totally non-invasive salivary metabolomics and/or micro-RNAS demonstrate great promise for early detection and long-term surveillance, but still require large-scale prospective validation to definitively validate their clinical validity. This review aims to provide an update on clinically available and emerging biomarkers for HCC, focusing on their respective clinical strengths and weaknesses.

Keywords: biomarkers; hepatocellular carcinoma; liver cancer; liver resection; liver transplant.

Publication types

  • Review

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.