Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth most common cause of cancer, and its incidence is increasing worldwide because of the dissemination of hepatitis B and C virus infection. Patients with cirrhosis are at the highest risk of developing HCC and should be monitored every 6 months to diagnose the tumour at an early, asymptomatic stage. Patients with early-stage HCC should be considered for any of the available curative therapies, including surgical resection, liver transplantation and percutaneous image-guided ablation. Liver transplantation is the only option that provides cure of both the tumour and the underlying chronic liver disease. However, the lack of sufficient liver donation greatly limits its applicability. Resection is the treatment of choice for HCC in non-cirrhotic patients, who account for about 5% of the cases in western countries. However, in patients with cirrhosis, candidates for resection have to be carefully selected to reduce the risk of postoperative liver failure. It has been shown that a normal bilirubin concentration and the absence of clinically significant portal hypertension are the best predictors of excellent outcomes after surgery. However, less than 5% of cirrhotic patients with HCC fit these criteria. Image-guided percutaneous ablation is the best therapeutic choice for non-surgical patients with early-stage HCC. While ethanol injection has been the seminal percutaneous technique, radiofrequency ablation has emerged as the most effective method for local tumour destruction and is currently used as the primary ablative modality at most institutions.
- Hepatocellular carcinoma
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging