Oncology Central

The biological and clinical challenge of liver cancer heterogeneity


Primary liver cancer (PLC) consists of two major histological subtypes: hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC). PLC is, similar to all major human cancers, clinically and biologically heterogeneous, and highly resistant to treatment. Consequently, 5-year survival rates of PLC in the US has been <20% over the past 40 years with little sign of improvement [1]. Patient ethnicity, underlying liver diseases due to various etiological factors such as viral hepatitis resulting from hepatitis B and hepatitis C infection, parasitic infection, alcoholic liver disease, or obesity, etc., may contribute to molecular and biological heterogeneity [2]. Furthermore, recent application of genomic technologies (e.g., transcriptomic and sequencing analyses) have reinforced the extent of heterogeneity in PLC [2].

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