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A Journal on Internal Medicine

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Panminerva Medica 2012 December;54(4):313-22

language: English

Extrahepatic spread of hepatocellular carcinoma

Cabibbo G. 1, 2, Compilato D. 3, Genco C. 1, Campisi G. 3

1 Section of Gastroenterology, Di.Bi.Mi.S., University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy;
2 Department of Pathobiology and Biomedical Methodologies, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy;
3 Department of Surgical and Oncological Disciplines, Sector of Oral Medicine “V. Margiotta”, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a major health problem. The treatment of HCC depends on the tumour stage and on the severity of underlying cirrhosis, however, a majority of HCC patients have advanced disease at presentation. In recent years extra-hepatic spread (ES) of HCC seems to have been observed more frequently than in the past even if few data exist in literature on prevalence, clinical presentation and prognosis of patients with HCC ES. Aim of this brief review is underline the main concerns, pitfalls and warnings in practicing with these patients. ES of HCC are not rare, and the probability of finding ES is higher in patients with advanced intra-hepatic HCC. The more frequent ES sites are lung lymph nodes and bones, but also the head and neck district can be affected. The prognosis of HCC patients with ES is poor and sorafenib seems to be the only therapeutic option.

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