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World J Hepatol. 2017 Jul 28;9(21):907-920. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v9.i21.907.

Chemotherapy for hepatocellular carcinoma: The present and the future.

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Marco Le Grazie, Maria Rosa Biagini, Mirko Tarocchi, Simone Polvani, Andrea Galli, Gastroenterology Research Unit, Department of Experimental and Clinical Biochemical Sciences "Mario Serio", University of Florence, 50139 Florence, Italy.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common primary tumor of the liver. Its relationship to chronic liver diseases, in particular cirrhosis, develops on a background of viral hepatitis, excessive alcohol intake or metabolic steatohepatitis, leads to a high incidence and prevalence of this neoplasia worldwide. Despite the spread of HCC, its treatment it's still a hard challenge, due to high rate of late diagnosis and to lack of therapeutic options for advanced disease. In fact radical surgery and liver transplantation, the most radical therapeutic approaches, are indicated only in case of early diagnosis. Even local therapies, such as transarterial chemoembolization, find limited indications, leading to an important problem regarding treatment of advanced disease. In this situation, until terminal HCC occurs, systemic therapy is the only possible approach, with sorafenib as the only standard treatment available. Anyway, the efficacy of this drug is limited and many efforts are necessary to understand who could benefit more with this treatment. Therefore, other molecules for a targeted therapy were evaluated, but only regorafenib showed promising results. Beside molecular target therapy, also cytotoxic drugs, in particular oxaliplatin- and gemcitabine-based regimens, and immune-checkpoint inhibitors were tested with interesting results. The future of the treatment of this neoplasia is linked to our ability to understand its mechanisms of resistance and to find novel therapeutic targets, with the objective to purpose individualized approaches to patients affected by advanced HCC.


Chemotherapy; Cytotoxic therapy; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Immunotherapy; Molecular targeted therapy; Perspectives; Systemic therapy

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Conflict-of-interest statement: The authors declare no potential conflicts of interest or financial support.

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