- 1Department of Internal Medicine, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, Columbus, Ohio, USA.
- 2Department of Surgery, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio, USA.
Introduction: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a major health problem worldwide with limited systemic therapy options. Since the approval of sorafenib in 2008, no systemic therapy has provided a sustained/robust/survival benefit for patients with advanced HCC until recently. Many initially promising therapies have been trialed, but survival outcomes remained stagnant. Knowledge concerning previous treatment failures may help inform future therapeutic approaches.
Area covered: This article reviews recent advances in the treatment of HCC. Despite some recent success, many systemic and locoregional therapies have failed to produce significant improvements in outcome. These treatment failures are examined and insight into pathways for future success are discussed.
Expert opinion: Combination atezolizumab and bevacizumab has changed the landscape of systemic treatment for patients with HCC when it became the first therapy after demonstrating improve outcomes over sorafenib. Clinical trials in patients with advanced HCC have inherent difficulty with challenges to determine if a patient's declining liver function is secondary to disease progression, worsening cirrhosis, or drug toxicity, which may skew results. As we gain more knowledge of underlying genetic alterations behind the pathophysiology of the development of HCC, molecular markers may be identified to assist in predicting which patients would respond to a specific therapy.