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Ann Oncol. 2001 Feb;12(2):161-72.

Hepatocellular carcinoma.

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CRC Institute for Cancer Studies, University Hospital Birmingham, Edgbaston, UK.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the sixth most common cancer of men and eleventh most common cancer of women world-wide. However, because almost every individual who develops liver cancer dies of the disease, HCC is the third most common cause of the cancer deaths in men and seventh most common in women. The treatment of choice for hepatocellular carcinoma remains surgical resection or liver transplantation, in carefully selected cases. In patients with hepatocellular carcinoma not amenable to surgical intervention a variety of different therapeutic interventions have been investigated. These include direct ablation of the tumour using agents such as ethanol or acetic acid, transcatheter arterial chemoembolization, or systemic chemotherapy. The evaluation of their efficacy is compromised by the paucity of adequately powered randomised clinical trials. The main challenge facing the research community over the next decade is to prioritise the most promising treatments and take these forward into multicentre controlled trials. Even if these fail to improve results, they will help reduce the variation in clinical practice by eliminating anecdotal treatment.

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