BioScience Trends. 2022;16(1):31-45. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2022.01044)

Use of chemotherapy to treat hepatocellular carcinoma

Hou Z, Liu J, Jin Z, Qiu G, Xie Q, Mi S, Huang J


Hepatic malignancies remain a global challenge. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) accounts for around 90% of patients with liver cancer and is the sixth most common neoplasm worldwide and the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death. However, the long-term prognosis for HCC remains far from satisfactory, with a late diagnosis and limited treatment. DOX has served as conventional chemotherapy with the longest history of use. Although conventional chemotherapy is being challenged by molecular therapy and immune therapy, there is renewed optimism and interest in both systematic and locoregional therapy. Combined chemotherapy is widely used in clinical practice. In specific terms, FOLFOX can serve as a first-line (category 2B) option as recommended by the 2021 NCCN guidelines, while the efficacy of LTLD plus RFA has been confirmed in the phase III HEAT study. These approaches have challenged the dominant status of molecular therapy in terms of health economics and they have potential benefits in Asia, where HBV-related hepatocellular carcinoma is prevalent. Moreover, locoregional chemotherapy can be achieved with TACE and HAIC (possibly involving FOLFOX, DOX, mitomycin C, cisplatin, epirubicin, etc.). TACE was officially recommended by the 2021 NCCN guidelines for patients with Child-Pugh class B liver disease. In addition, HAIC has demonstrated a potential advantage in preliminary clinical practice, although it hasn't been included in any guidelines. Hence, this review summarizes largescale trials and studies examining the development and innovative use of chemotherapeutic agents. Mounting clinical evidence warrants an exploration of the efficacy of chemotherapy.

KEYWORDS: chemotherapy, hepatocellular carcinoma, immune therapy, molecular therapy

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