Evaluating Current Challenges in Hepatocellular Carcinoma

May 7, 2020

Anjana Pillai, MD, discusses challenges for treating patients with hepatocellular carcinoma.

Anjana Pillai, MD, associate professor of Medicine and medical director of the Liver Tumor Program at the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center, discusses challenges for treating patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Pillai says 1 of the main problems is that since there are large amounts of advanced cases, the surveillance techniques are not as good as they could be for this patient population. She says that education on when to use surveillance for patients that meet certain criteria is important, in the way of teaching providers what to keep an eye out for, such as cirrhosis or hepatitis B virus. If physicians can identify these patients earlier, they can offer better options.

Although there have been tremendous improvements in therapies, patients with advanced HCC are not being cured, according to Pillai. Patients have longer survival times than they used to, but these therapies are not curative. A discussion at the Therapeutic Agents for Hepatocellular Carcinoma 2020 Conference is the lack of identified molecular drivers of HCC since patients with HCC are consider a heterogenous group, from the reason patients get this disease to the cancer itself. If these molecular drivers could be identified, then physicians could target them and give patients more personalized treatment. Even though work is being done in this area, it has not moved into clinical practice yet, Pillai concludes.

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