1st Division of Gastroenterology, A.M. & A. Migliavacca Center for Liver Disease, Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda Maggiore Hospital, Università degli Studi di Milano, Via F. Sforza 35, Milan 20122, Italy.
The hepatitis B virus (HBV) plays a dominant role in the 749,000 new cases and 692,000 deaths related to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) that are estimated to occur each year worldwide. Chronic infection with HBV is responsible for 60% of HCCs in Asia and Africa and at least 20% of the tumors in Europe, Japan, and the United States. This article discusses the pathogenic role of HBV and the risk of HCC. Tumors almost invariably develop in the context of chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis, which makes early diagnosis the only practical approach to improve prognosis. The treatment options are also discussed.