Marco Vivarelli, Roberto Montalti, Hepatobiliary and Abdominal Transplantation Surgery, Department of Gastroenterology and Transplantation, Polytechnic University of Marche, 60129 Ancona, Italy.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most frequent primary liver tumor, and overall, it is one of the most frequent cancers. The association of HCC with chronic liver disease, and cirrhosis in particular, is well known, making treatment complex and challenging. The treatment of HCC must take into account the presence and stage of chronic liver disease, with the aim of preserving hepatic function that is often already impaired, the stage of HCC and the clinical condition of the patient. The different treatment options include surgical resection, transplantation, local ablation, chemoembolization, radioembolization and molecular targeted therapies; these treatments can be combined in various ways to achieve different goals. Ideally, liver transplantation is best treatment for early stage HCC on cirrhosis because it removes both the tumor and the chronic disease that produced it; however, the application of this powerful tool is limited by the scarcity of donors. Downstaging and bridging are different strategies for the management of HCC patients who will undergo liver transplantation. Several professionals, including gastroenterologists, radiologists and surgeons, are involved in the choice of the most appropriate treatment for a single case, and a multidisciplinary approach is necessary to optimize the outcome. The purpose of this review is to provide a comprehensive description of the current treatment options for patients with HCC by analyzing the advantages, disadvantages and rationale for their use.