Role of liver resection in the era of advanced systemic therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma

Glob Health Med. 2024 Jun 30;6(3):170-173. doi: 10.35772/ghm.2024.01002.

Abstract

The recent dramatic progress in systemic therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) provides the possibility of a combination of surgery and systemic therapy including adjuvant, neoadjuvant, or conversion settings. Since the turn of the century, at least three negative studies have tested adjuvant therapies after curative resection or ablation, including uracil-tegafur, which is an oral chemotherapeutic drug, sorafenib, and peretinoin, which a synthetic retinoid that may induce the apoptosis and differentiation of liver cancer cells. Using more potent immuno-checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs), at least 4 phase III trials of adjuvant immunotherapy are ongoing: nivolumab, durvalumab/ bevacizumab, pembrolizumab, and atezolizumab+bevacizumab. Very recently, the last trial indicated a significantly better recurrence-free survival (RFS) for adjuvant atezolizumab+bevacizumab. Another promising combination of surgery and systemic therapy is neoadjuvant therapy for potentially resectable cases or a conversion strategy for oncologically unresectable cases. There are 2 neoadjuvant trials for technically or oncologically unresectable HCCs ongoing in Japan: the LENS-HCC trial using lenvatinib and the RACB study using atezolizumab+bevacizumab. A longer follow-up may be needed, but the overall survival (OS) in resected cases seems much higher than that in unresectable cases. Recently, the Japan Liver Cancer Association (JLCA) and the Japanese Society of HPB Surgery (JSHPBS) created a joint working group on "so-called borderline resectable HCC". They obtained a Japanese consensus on this issue that has been published on the websites of JLCA and JSHPBS. The definition of resectability or borderline resectability provides a common language regarding advanced HCC for investigators and is a useful tool for future clinical trials.

Keywords: adjuvant systemic therapy; conversion strategy; hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC); neoadjuvant systemic therapy.

Publication types

  • Editorial