Tumour evolution in hepatocellular carcinoma

Amanda J. Craig, Johann von Felden, Teresa Garcia-Lezana, Samantha Sarcognato, Augusto Villanueva

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

355 Scopus citations


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common form of primary liver cancer, typically develops on the background of chronic liver disease and is an aggressive disease with dismal prognosis. Studies using next-generation sequencing of multiple regions of the same tumour nodule suggest different patterns of HCC evolution and confirm the high molecular heterogeneity in a subset of patients. Different hypotheses have been proposed to explain tumour evolution, including clonal selection or neutral and punctuated acquisition of genetic alterations. In parallel, data indicate a fundamental contribution of nonmalignant cells of the tumour microenvironment to cancer clonal evolution. Delineating these dynamics is crucial to improve the treatment of patients with HCC, and particularly to help understand how HCC evolution drives resistance to systemic therapies. A number of new minimally invasive techniques, such as liquid biopsies, could help track cancer evolution in HCC. These tools might improve our understanding of how systemic therapies affect tumour clonal composition and could facilitate implementation of real-time molecular monitoring of patients with HCC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-152
Number of pages14
JournalNature Reviews Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2020


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