Sezione di Gastroenterologia, DIBIMIS, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a challenging malignancy of global importance. It is associated with a high rate of mortality and its prevalence in the United States and in Western Europe is increasing. Cirrhosis is the strongest and the most common known risk factor for HCC, usually due to hepatitis C virus (HCV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections. However, different lines of evidence identify in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) a possible relevant risk factor for occurrence of HCC. Given the continuing increase in the prevalence of obesity and diabetes, the incidence of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis-related HCC may also be expected to increase, and a potential role of behavior treatment and/or insulin-sensitizing drugs can be envisaged. Vaccination against HBV is the most efficient primary prevention measure currently available to reduce the HCC incidence and mortality in high-incidence areas, while data on the role of interferon (IFN) and nucleos(t)ide analogues (NUC) are still controversial. The pooling of data from the literature suggests a slight preventive effect of antiviral therapy on HCC development in patients with HCV-related cirrhosis, but the preventive effect is limited to sustained virological responders.