Division of Abdominal Imaging and Intervention, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. 55 Fruit Street, White 270, Boston, MA 02114; Department of Radiology, ChangZheng Hospital Affiliated to Second Military Medical University. 415 Fengyang Road, Shanghai, China, 200003.
The management of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is evolving because of recently introduced novel therapeutic approaches. There is growing recognition that optimal outcome requires choosing treatment tailored to suit each individual patient, necessitating an early and accurate assessment of tumor response to therapy. The established and adapted image biomarkers based on size for tumor burden measurement continues to be applied to HCC as size measurement can easily be used in any clinical practice. However, in the setting of novel targeted therapies and liver directed treatments, simple tumor anatomical changes can be less informative and usually appear later than biological changes. Therefore the importance of image biomarkers such as tumor viability measurement, functional perfusion and diffusion imaging for response assessment is increasingly being recognized. Although promising, these imaging biomarkers have not gone through all the required steps of standardization and validation. In this review, we discuss various established, evolving and emerging imaging biomarkers and the criteria of response evaluation and their challenges in HCC.