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2015 Sep 28;21(36):10314-26. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v21.i36.10314.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the predominant form of primary liver cancer, is the fifth most common cancer worldwide and the second leading cause of cancer-related death. Despite the high incidence, treatment options remain limited for advanced HCC, and as a result prognosis continues to be poor. Current therapeutic options, surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, have only modest efficacy. New treatment modalities to prolong survival and to minimize the risk of adverse response are desperately needed for patients with advanced HCC. Tumor immunotherapy is a promising, novel treatment strategy that may lead to improvements in both treatment-associated toxicity and outcome. The strategies have developed in part through genomic studies that have yielded candidate target molecules and in part through basic biology studies that have defined the pathways and cell types regulating immune response. Here, we summarize the various types of HCC immunotherapy and argue that the new-found field of HCC immunotherapy might provide critical advantages in the effort to improve prognosis of patients with advanced HCC. Already several immunotherapies, such as tumor-associated antigen therapy, immune checkpoint inhibitors and cell transfer immunotherapy, have demonstrated safety and feasibility in HCC patients. Unfortunately, immunotherapy currently has low efficacy in advanced stage HCC patients; overcoming this challenge will place immunotherapy at the forefront of HCC treatment, possibly in the near future.


Cell transfer immunotherapy; Cytokine therapy; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Immune checkpoint inhibitors; Immunotherapy; Tumor-associated antigens therapy

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