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Clin Cancer Res. 2010 Oct 1;16(19):4688-94. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-09-1811. Epub 2010 Aug 16.

New strategies in hepatocellular carcinoma: genomic prognostic markers.

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Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques Agusto Pi i Sunyer, Hospital Clinic, Barcelona, Spain.


Accurate prognosis prediction in oncology is critical. In patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), unlike most solid tumors, the coexistence of two life-threatening conditions, cancer and cirrhosis, makes prognostic assessments difficult. Despite the usefulness of clinical staging systems for HCC in routine clinical decision making (e.g., Barcelona-Clinic Liver Cancer algorithm), there is still a need to refine and complement outcome predictions. Recent data suggest the ability of gene signatures from the tumor (e.g., EpCAM signature) and adjacent tissue (e.g., poor-survival signature) to predict outcome in HCC (either recurrence or overall survival), although independent external validation is still required. In addition, novel information is being produced by alternative genomic sources such as microRNA (miRNA; e.g., miR-26a) or epigenomics, areas in which promising preliminary data are thoroughly explored. Prognostic models need to contemplate the impact of liver dysfunction and risk of subsequent de novo tumors in a patient's life expectancy. The challenge for the future is to precisely depict genomic predictors (e.g., gene signatures, miRNA, or epigenetic biomarkers) at each stage of the disease and their specific influence to determine patient prognosis.

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