Treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma

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Treatment options have largely been selected according to empirical criteria, such as the presence or absence of cirrhosis, number and size of tumors, and degree of hepatic deterioration and taking into account the local technological and economic resources. There are virtually no controlled studies comparing the efficacy of the available treatments, and the substantial heterogeneity of survival between control groups does not allow us to obtain therapeutic evaluation by comparing results of separate trials. The reassessment of treatment outcomes on the basis of intention-to-treat analysis yielded less encouraging figures. Hepatic resection is the primary option for the few patients with a hepatocellular carcinoma arising in a normal liver with well-preserved hepatic function and for patients with a single tumor, compensated cirrhosis and low portal hypertension who are not candidable to liver transplantation. The latter is the best treatment modality for patients with a solitary tumor <5 cm in diameter or patients with less than three tumors <3 cm, resulting in a 5-year survival of 75%. Locoregional ablative treatments are curative options for patients with a "resectable" tumor who cannot be offered transplantation or hepatic resection. The 5-year survival is approximately 50% but it copes with a high risk of tumor recurrence. Patients with advanced tumor disease cannot be offered curative treatments but only symptomatic treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-215
Number of pages7
JournalAntiviral Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001



  • Hepatic resection
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Liver transplantation
  • Percutaneous ablation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Pharmacology

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