Cancer constitutes an enormous burden on society in more and less economically developed countries alike. The occurrence of cancer is increasing because of the growth and aging of the population, as well as an increasing prevalence of established risk factors such as smoking, overweight, physical inactivity, and changing reproductive patterns associated with urbanization and economic development. Based on GLOBOCAN estimates, about 14.1 million new cancer cases and 8.2 million deaths occurred in 2012 worldwide. Over the years, the burden has shifted to less developed countries, which currently account for about 57% of cases and 65% of cancer deaths worldwide. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among males in both more and less developed countries, and has surpassed breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer death among females in more developed countries; breast cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death among females in less developed countries. Other leading causes of cancer death in more developed countries include colorectal cancer among males and females and prostate cancer among males. In less developed countries, liver and stomach cancer among males and cervical cancer among females are also leading causes of cancer death. Although incidence rates for all cancers combined are nearly twice as high in more developed than in less developed countries in both males and females, mortality rates are only 8% to 15% higher in more developed countries. This disparity reflects regional differences in the mix of cancers, which is affected by risk factors and detection practices, and/or the availability of treatment. Risk factors associated with the leading causes of cancer death include tobacco use (lung, colorectal, stomach, and liver cancer), overweight/obesity and physical inactivity (breast and colorectal cancer), and infection (liver, stomach, and cervical cancer). A substantial portion of cancer cases and deaths could be prevented by broadly applying effective prevention measures, such as tobacco control, vaccination, and the use of early detection tests.Read more
No effective systemic therapy exists for patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma. A preliminary study suggested that sorafenib, an oral multikinase inhibitor of the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor, the platelet-derived growth factor receptor, and Raf may be effective in hepatocellular carcinoma.
In this multicenter, phase 3, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, we randomly assigned 602 patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma who had not received previous systemic treatment to receive either sorafenib (at a dose of 400 mg twice daily) or placebo. Primary outcomes were overall survival and the time to symptomatic progression. Secondary outcomes included the time to radiologic progression and safety.
At the second planned interim analysis, 321 deaths had occurred, and the study was stopped. Median overall survival was 10.7 months in the sorafenib group and 7.9 months in the placebo group (hazard ratio in the sorafenib group, 0.69; 95% confidence interval, 0.55 to 0.87; P<0.001). There was no significant difference between the two groups in the median time to symptomatic progression (4.1 months vs. 4.9 months, respectively, P=0.77). The median time to radiologic progression was 5.5 months in the sorafenib group and 2.8 months in the placebo group (P<0.001). Seven patients in the sorafenib group (2%) and two patients in the placebo group (1%) had a partial response; no patients had a complete response. Diarrhea, weight loss, hand-foot skin reaction, and hypophosphatemia were more frequent in the sorafenib group.
In patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma, median survival and the time to radiologic progression were nearly 3 months longer for patients treated with sorafenib than for those given placebo. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00105443.)Read more
Primary liver cancer, which consists predominantly of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), is the fifth most common cancer worldwide and the third most common cause of cancer mortality. HCC has several interesting epidemiologic features including dynamic temporal trends; marked variations among geographic regions, racial and ethnic groups, and between men and women; and the presence of several well-documented environmental potentially preventable risk factors. Moreover, there is a growing understanding on the molecular mechanisms inducing hepatocarcinogenesis, which almost never occurs in healthy liver, but the cancer risk increases sharply in response to chronic liver injury at the cirrhosis stage. A detailed understanding of epidemiologic factors and molecular mechanisms associated with HCC ultimately could improve our current concepts for screening and treatment of this disease.Read more
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth most common cause of cancer, and its incidence is increasing worldwide because of the dissemination of hepatitis B and C virus infection. Patients with cirrhosis are at the highest risk and should be monitored every 6 months. Surveillance can lead to diagnosis at early stages, when the tumour might be curable by resection, liver transplantation, or percutaneous treatment. In the West and Japan, these treatments can be applied to 30% of patients, and result in 5-year survival rates higher than 50%. Resection is indicated among patients who have one tumour and well-preserved liver function. Liver transplantation benefits patients who have decompensated cirrhosis and one tumour smaller than 5 cm or three nodules smaller than 3 cm, but donor shortage greatly limits its applicability. This difficulty might be overcome by living donation. Most HCC patients are diagnosed at advanced stages and receive palliative treatments, which have been assessed in the setting of 63 randomised controlled trials during the past 25 years. Meta-analysis shows that only chemoembolisation improves survival in well-selected patients with unresectable HCC.Read more
Most cases of hepatocellular carcinoma occur in the Asia-Pacific region, where chronic hepatitis B infection is an important aetiological factor. Assessing the efficacy and safety of new therapeutic options in an Asia-Pacific population is thus important. We did a multinational phase III, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to assess the efficacy and safety of sorafenib in patients from the Asia-Pacific region with advanced (unresectable or metastatic) hepatocellular carcinoma.
Between Sept 20, 2005, and Jan 31, 2007, patients with hepatocellular carcinoma who had not received previous systemic therapy and had Child-Pugh liver function class A, were randomly assigned to receive either oral sorafenib (400 mg) or placebo twice daily in 6-week cycles, with efficacy measured at the end of each 6-week period. Eligible patients were stratified by the presence or absence of macroscopic vascular invasion or extrahepatic spread (or both), Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status, and geographical region. Randomisation was done centrally and in a 2:1 ratio by means of an interactive voice-response system. There was no predefined primary endpoint; overall survival, time to progression (TTP), time to symptomatic progression (TTSP), disease control rate (DCR), and safety were assessed. Efficacy analyses were done by intention to treat. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00492752.
271 patients from 23 centres in China, South Korea, and Taiwan were enrolled in the study. Of these, 226 patients were randomly assigned to the experimental group (n=150) or to the placebo group (n=76). Median overall survival was 6.5 months (95% CI 5.56-7.56) in patients treated with sorafenib, compared with 4.2 months (3.75-5.46) in those who received placebo (hazard ratio [HR] 0.68 [95% CI 0.50-0.93]; p=0.014). Median TTP was 2.8 months (2.63-3.58) in the sorafenib group compared with 1.4 months (1.35-1.55) in the placebo group (HR 0.57 [0.42-0.79]; p=0.0005). The most frequently reported grade 3/4 drug-related adverse events in the 149 assessable patients treated with sorafenib were hand-foot skin reaction (HFSR; 16 patients [10.7%]), diarrhoea (nine patients [6.0%]), and fatigue (five patients [3.4%]). The most common adverse events resulting in dose reductions were HFSR (17 patients [11.4%]) and diarrhoea (11 patients [7.4%]); these adverse events rarely led to discontinuation.
Sorafenib is effective for the treatment of advanced hepatocellular carcinoma in patients from the Asia-Pacific region, and is well tolerated. Taken together with data from the Sorafenib Hepatocellular Carcinoma Assessment Randomised Protocol (SHARP) trial, sorafenib seems to be an appropriate option for the treatment of advanced hepatocellular carcinoma.Read more
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection causes chronic liver diseases and is a global public health problem. Detailed analyses of HCV have been hampered by the lack of viral culture systems. Subgenomic replicons of the JFH1 genotype 2a strain cloned from an individual with fulminant hepatitis replicate efficiently in cell culture. Here we show that the JFH1 genome replicates efficiently and supports secretion of viral particles after transfection into a human hepatoma cell line (Huh7). Particles have a density of about 1.15-1.17 g/ml and a spherical morphology with an average diameter of about 55 nm. Secreted virus is infectious for Huh7 cells and infectivity can be neutralized by CD81-specific antibodies and by immunoglobulins from chronically infected individuals. The cell culture-generated HCV is infectious for chimpanzee. This system provides a powerful tool for studying the viral life cycle and developing antiviral strategies.Read more
The role of orthotopic liver transplantation in the treatment of patients with cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma is controversial, and determining which patients are likely to have a good outcome after liver transplantation is difficult.
We studied 48 patients with cirrhosis who had small, unresectable hepatocellular carcinomas and who underwent liver transplantation. In 94 percent of the patients, the cirrhosis was related to infection with hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, or both. The presence of tumor was confirmed by biopsy or serum alpha-fetoprotein assay. The criteria for eligibility for transplantation were the presence of a tumor 5 cm or less in diameter in patients with single hepatocellular carcinomas and no more than three tumor nodules, each 3 cm or less in diameter, in patients with multiple tumors. Thirty-three patients with sufficient hepatic function underwent treatment for the tumor, mainly chemoembolization, before transplantation. After liver transplantation, the patients were followed prospectively for a median of 26 months (range, 9 to 54). No anticancer treatment was given after transplantation.
The overall mortality rate was 17 percent. After four years, the actuarial survival rate was 75 percent and the rate of recurrence-free survival was 83 percent. Hepatocellular carcinoma recurred in four patients (8 percent). The overall and recurrence-free survival rates at four years among the 35 patients (73 percent of the total) who met the predetermined criteria for the selection of small hepatocellular carcinomas at pathological review of small hepatocellular carcinomas at pathological review of the explanted liver wer 85 percent and 92 percent, respectively, whereas the rates in the 13 patients (27 percent) whose tumors exceeded these limits were 50 percent and 59 percent, respectively (P=0.01 for overall survival; P=0.002 for recurrence-free survival). In this group of 48 patients with early-stage tumors, tumor-node-metastasis status, the number of tumors, the serum alphafetoprotein concentration, treatment received before transplantation, and 10 other variables were not significantly correlated with survival.
Liver transplantation is an effective treatment for small, unresectable hepatocellular carcinomas in patients with cirrhosis.Read more
Nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) transcription factors and the signalling pathways that activate them are central coordinators of innate and adaptive immune responses. More recently, it has become clear that NF-kappaB signalling also has a critical role in cancer development and progression. NF-kappaB provides a mechanistic link between inflammation and cancer, and is a major factor controlling the ability of both pre-neoplastic and malignant cells to resist apoptosis-based tumour-surveillance mechanisms. NF-kappaB might also regulate tumour angiogenesis and invasiveness, and the signalling pathways that mediate its activation provide attractive targets for new chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic approaches.Read more