Department of Radiation Oncology, Princess Margaret Hospital/University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a leading cause of global cancer death. Curative therapy is not an option for most patients, often because of underlying liver disease. Experience in radiation therapy (RT) for HCC is rapidly increasing. Conformal RT can deliver tumoricidal doses to focal HCC with low rates of toxicity and sustained local control in HCC unsuitable for other locoregional treatments. Stereotactic body RT and particle therapy have been used with long-term control in early HCC or as a bridge to liver transplant. RT has also been effective in treating HCC with portal venous thrombosis. Patients with impaired liver function and extensive disease are at increased risk of toxicity and recurrence. More research on how to combine RT with other standard and novel therapies is warranted. Randomized trials are also needed before RT will be generally accepted as a treatment option for HCC. This review discusses the current state of the literature and opportunities for future research.