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Hepatocellular Carcinoma: A Guide for Patients


ESMO Guides for Patients are designed to assist patients, their relatives and caregivers to better understand the nature of different types of cancer and evaluate the best available treatment choices.

What is hepatocellular carcinoma?

The liver consists of different types of cells, and liver cancer is classified by the type of cell it starts in. The most common form of liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma, which starts in the main liver cells (hepatocytes). Other rarer types of liver cancer include fibrolamellar carcinoma, cholangiocarcinoma, angiosarcoma and hepatoblastoma. This guide focuses exclusively on hepatocellular carcinoma.

Beyond a definition of hepatocellular carcinoma, in this guide for patients you will find answers to questions such as:

  • What are the symptoms of hepatocellular carcinoma?
  • How common is liver cancer?
  • What causes hepatocellular carcinoma?
  • How is hepatocellular carcinoma diagnosed?
  • How will my treatment be determined?
  • What are the treatment options for hepatocellular carcinoma?
  • Clinical trials
  • Additional interventions
  • What are the possible side effects of the treatments?
  • Long-term side effects
  • What happens next?
  • Support groups

This guide has been prepared to help you, your friends, your family and caregivers better understand the nature of hepatocellular carcinoma and the treatments that are available. The medical information described in this document is based on ESMO clinical practice guidelines for the management of hepatocellular carcinoma. We recommend that you ask your doctor about the tests and types of treatments available in your country for your stage of hepatocellular carcinoma.

Published in 2020.

To enquire about permission to translate or support the distribution (in English or in a translated version) of the Patient Guides series, please send an e-mail to patient_guides@esmo.org

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