Biology of Hepatocellular Carcinoma: Past, Present and Beyond

  • Xin Wei Wang
  • Joe W. Grisham
  • Snorri S. Thorgeirsson
Part of the Cancer Genetics book series (CANGENETICS)


Primary liver cancer (PLC) is the third most deadly and fifth most common cancer in the world (Parkin et al. 1999), with an estimated 626,000 or 5.7% of new cancer cases and almost as many deaths in 2002 (Parkin et al. 2005). Liver cancer is an ancient disease and its description can be found in Huangdi Neijing, an ancient Chinese medical textbook also known as Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon dated back over 2000 years ago. However, the first mentioned PLC case could be dated as early as 1849 by Carl Rokitansky and the definition of PLC, as referenced to metastatic liver cancer, was only formally established in 1888 by Victor Hanot and Augustin Gilbert, and in 1889 independently by Moriharu Miura (Hanot and Gilbert 1888; Rokitansky 1849; Yamagiwa 1911). Traditionally, PLC was considered as an incurable disease due to an extremely poor outcome. Patients with PLC have been an underserved population since the beginning of its discovery and the disease is becoming a major health burden worldwide. Clearly, there is a strong need in expanding basic and translational research on PLC with an ultimate goal to reduce its severity. Recent studies on HCC genetic and genomic analyses feature important advances in the understanding of the complex biological processes underlying tumorigenesis and metastasis of PLC, and demonstrate how these insights might translate into clinical applications. As we approach a golden era in PLC research, we anticipate a significant advance in our understanding of this disease in near future. We are confident that the knowledge gain from continuing research efforts on PLC undoubtedly facilitates the understanding of molecular mechanism and tumor biology to provide the best therapy for each cancer patient and to improve patient management.


Primary liver cancer Hepatocellular carcinoma Hepatitis B virus Hepatitis C virus Aflatoxin TP53 mutation Chronic liver disease Cancer biomarker Cancer screening Therapy Liver transplantation Alpha fetoprotein AFP-L3 Tumor staging Cirrhosis HCC metastasis Genetic signature cDNA microarray transcriptomics Hepatocarcinogenesis Tumor suppressor gene Oncogene microRNA Molecular Personalized cancer care 


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Copyright information

© Springer New York 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xin Wei Wang
    • 1
  • Joe W. Grisham
    • 2
  • Snorri S. Thorgeirsson
    • 3
  1. 1.Liver Carcinogenesis Section, Laboratory of Human CarcinogenesisNational Cancer Institute, NIHBethesdaUSA
  2. 2.University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  3. 3.Laboratory of Experimental CarcinogenesisCenter for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, NIHBethesdaUSA

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