Global trends in hepatocellular carcinoma epidemiology: implications for screening, prevention and therapy

Amit G. Singal, Fasiha Kanwal, Josep M. Llovet

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) mortality rates are increasing globally, and particularly in the Western world. Cirrhosis remains the predominant risk factor for HCC. However, epidemiological shifts in the incidence of HCC from patients with virus-related liver disease to those with non-viral aetiologies, including alcohol-associated and metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease, have important implications for prevention, surveillance and treatment. Hepatitis B vaccination and antiviral therapy for hepatitis B and C are effective for primary prevention of virus-related HCCs, but chemoprevention strategies for non-viral liver disease remain an unmet need. Emerging data suggest associations between aspirin, statins, metformin and coffee and reduced HCC incidence, although none has been proved to be causally related. Secondary prevention of HCC via semi-annual surveillance is associated with improvements in early detection and thus reduced mortality; however, current tools, including abdominal ultrasonography, have suboptimal sensitivity for the detection of early stage HCC, particularly in patients with obesity and/or non-viral liver disease. Promising blood-based or imaging-based surveillance strategies are emerging, although these approaches require further validation before adoption in clinical practice. In the interim, efforts should be focused on maximizing use of the existing surveillance tools given their prevalent underuse globally. Remarkable advances have been made in the treatment of HCC, including expanded eligibility for surgical therapies, improved patient selection for locoregional treatments and increased systemic treatment options, including immune-checkpoint inhibitors. In this Review, we discuss trends in the epidemiology of HCC and their implications for screening, prevention and therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)864-884
Number of pages21
JournalNature Reviews Clinical Oncology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2023


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