Frontline therapy for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma: an update

Mehmet Akce, Bassel F. El-Rayes, Tanios S. Bekaii-Saab

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fastest increasing cause of cancer-related mortality in the United States and is projected to be the third leading cause of cancer-related mortality in the United States by 2030. Main risk factors include alcoholic cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). More than half of the patients have advanced-stage disease at presentation. Currently approved frontline systemic therapy options include sorafenib, lenvatinib, and atezolizumab/bevacizumab. Over the past decade, there has been a significant improvement in survival with a median overall survival of 19.2 months reported with first-line treatment with atezolizumab/bevacizumab. Based on positive results of randomized phase III HIMALAYA trial, durvalumab and tremelimumab combination could become another frontline option. Multiple frontline clinical trials with immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) or ICI combined with other novel agents are underway. In the frontline setting, identifying predictive biomarkers for ICI-based or tyrosine kinase (TKI)-based therapy is an unmet need. Subsequent treatment is poorly defined in patients with prior ICI-based therapy since all the available second-line and beyond therapy was studied after first-line sorafenib. Frontline systemic therapy is poorly defined in certain subgroups of HCC such as Child–Pugh B and post-transplant recurrent HCC. The landscape of frontline HCC treatment is rapidly changing, and this article reviews the most recent treatment approaches to frontline therapy for advanced HCC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalTherapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • frontline treatment
  • immunotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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