Division of Liver Transplantation, West China Hospital, West China Medical School of Sichuan University, Chengdu, PR China.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth most common cancer in the world. Surgery offers the only hope for cure. However, the potentially curable method is only possible for a small proportion of those afflicted, for the rest, palliative treatment is indicated. Despite all the treatment options when used as monotherapy, patients with HCC have a poor long term prognosis. In this setting, multimodal and combination therapy has emerged as an alternative treatment modality for HCC. Studies have looked at various forms of combination therapy, including neoadjuvant/adjuvant/downstaging therapy for surgery and the combined modality of non-operative therapies. The novel molecular targeted therapies are also being used as combination regimens for surgery or other non-operative therapies. Some forms of combination therapies, including downstaging therapy for surgery, salvage transplantation, and molecular targeted therapy have been shown to provide survival benefits for well selected patients, and need to be encouraged in the future. And others such as pre-operative bridging therapy for liver transplantation, adjuvant therapy for hepatic resection and combination of local and regional therapies have also shown some benefits in preliminary results, which need confirmation in further studies. In conclusion, multimodal and combination therapy is an encouraging treatment modality for HCC. Future research should continue to unravel the role of combination therapy with properly selected patients and appropriate end points.