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Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC): an update.

In the absence of large randomized trials, the current treatment strategy for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains a matter of choice depending mostly on retrospective studies, experience of centers, and the technical therapeutic possibilities. In fact, treatment decisions must be based on HCC extension and liver function, which is dependent on underlying liver disease. Cirrhosis limits therapeutic choices, life expectancy, and tolerance to therapy. Surgical resection and/or local destruction are the most common curative treatments. Orthotopic liver transplantation is probably the best treatment for small HCC developed in cirrhosis because it treats tumor, cirrhosis, and preneoplastic lesions at the same time. However, this treatment method is feasible in fewer than 5% of cases. Adjuvant treatments include transarterial chemoembolization, chemotherapy, polyprenoic acid, interferon, adoptive immunotherapy, and intra-arterial radioactive lipiodol. Results from trials warrant confirmation in larger randomized trials to show a clear survival benefit on recurrence rate, secondary prevention, and overall survival. Chemoembolization is the only palliative treatment that has been proven to be active, unlike systemic chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and hormone therapy, whose activity is largely questionable and must all be restricted to clinical trials. Possible future therapeutic strategies include epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors, antivascular endothelial growth factor therapies, cyclin D inhibitors, and HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors.

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