Molecular therapies and precision medicine for hepatocellular carcinoma

Josep M. Llovet, Robert Montal, Daniela Sia, Richard S. Finn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1269 Scopus citations


The global burden of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is increasing and might soon surpass an annual incidence of 1 million cases. Genomic studies have established the landscape of molecular alterations in HCC; however, the most common mutations are not actionable, and only ~25% of tumours harbour potentially targetable drivers. Despite the fact that surveillance programmes lead to early diagnosis in 40–50% of patients, at a point when potentially curative treatments are applicable, almost half of all patients with HCC ultimately receive systemic therapies. Sorafenib was the first systemic therapy approved for patients with advanced-stage HCC, after a landmark study revealed an improvement in median overall survival from 8 to 11 months. New drugs — lenvatinib in the frontline and regorafenib, cabozantinib, and ramucirumab in the second line — have also been demonstrated to improve clinical outcomes, although the median overall survival remains ~1 year; thus, therapeutic breakthroughs are still needed. Immune-checkpoint inhibitors are now being incorporated into the HCC treatment armamentarium and combinations of molecularly targeted therapies with immunotherapies are emerging as tools to boost the immune response. Research on biomarkers of a response or primary resistance to immunotherapies is also advancing. Herein, we summarize the molecular targets and therapies for the management of HCC and discuss the advancements expected in the near future, including biomarker-driven treatments and immunotherapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)599-616
Number of pages18
JournalNature Reviews Clinical Oncology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2018


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