- 1Division of Internal Medicine, Hepatobiliary and Immunoallergic Diseases, IRCCS Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Bologna, Bologna, Italy.
- 2Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.
Introduction: The treatment landscape of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has significantly changed over the last 5 years with multiple options in the frontline, second line, and beyond. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) were the first approved systemic treatments for the advanced stage of HCC; however, thanks to the increasing knowledge and characterization of the immunological features of the tumor microenvironment, the systemic treatment of HCC has been further expanded with the immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) approach and the following evidence of the higher efficacy obtained with combined treatment with atezolizumab plus bevacizumab over sorafenib.
Areas covered: In this review, we look at rationale, efficacy, and safety profiles of current and emerging ICI/TKI combination treatments and discuss the available results from other clinical trials using similar combinatorial therapeutic approaches.
Expert opinion: Angiogenesis and immune evasion are the two key pathogenic hallmarks of HCC. While the pioneering regimen of atezolizumab/bevacizumab is consolidating as the first-line treatment of advanced HCC, it will be essential, in the near future, to determine the best second-line treatment options and how to optimize the selection of the most effective therapies. These points still need to be addressed by future studies that are largely warranted to enhance the treatment's effectiveness and ultimately to tackle down HCC lethality.