Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth most common cancer worldwide and occurs more often in men than women.  Tumour status, liver function and general health status are the main prognostic factors.  Most of the time the stage of the disease is diagnosed at intermediate to advanced stage as it usually becomes then clinically symptomatic and detectable.  Unfortunately, any generally accepted standard therapy does not exist for these stages.  Therefore median survival in the absence of treatment is currently 3-6 months.  HCC generally leads to death as a consequence of local tumour growth, tissue destruction and liver destruction, rather than widespread extrahepatic disease.

Traditionally, HCC is linked to liver cirrhosis (scarring of the liver).  Causes for liver cirrhosis and HCC are, for example, hepatitis B and C, alcohol abuse, medications, contaminated food, work-related factors, adiposity and/or diabetes mellitus or genetic factors.  A multiplication of the cancer risk is caused due to the combination of several risk factors.

There are different treatment options but they always depend on the tumour stage.  The treatments options are namely surgical resection, liver transplantation, percutaneous ethanol injection (PEI), radiofrequency ablation (RFA), brachytherapy (BT), transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) and selective internal radiation therapy (SIRT).

Source: German Cancer Society