Treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma


  • M. Colombo

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute of Internal Medicine, Research Unit on Liver Cancer, FIRC, University of Milan, IRCCS Maggiore, Milan, Italy
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Institute of Internal Medicine, University of Milan, Via Pace 9, 20122 Milan, Italy


Summary. Treatment of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is largely influenced by local resources and the clinical stage of the disease. Hepatic resection is the treatment of choice for patients with HCC and normal liver. Tumour size and number, and liver status are common guidelines for choosing treatment in patients with cirrhosis. Hepatic resection and liver transplantation offered the best chances of cure in patients with a single small tumour. The 3-year survival of these patients was definitively better than that of historical controls. In the setting of patients with well-preserved liver function, a controlled study comparing the cost-efficacy of resection and transplantation is deemed necessary by many, but it is hardly feasible for both ethical and practical considerations. One major drawback of surgery in patients with a small tumour is early tumour spread to regional lymph-nodes, which favours early tumour recurrence after operation. Patients with more advanced tumour disease were rarely eligible for surgery and had dismal prognoses. For those with small tumours who were not eligible for surgery, percutaneous ethanol injection appeared to be a cost-saving and effective treatment modality. Arterial embolization is the only recom-mendable palliative treatment of patients with large tumours and poor hepatic function.