Liver Hepatocellular CarcinomaRSS

Last Updated: June 15, 2017

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What is liver cancer?

Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common form of liver cancer in the United States, making up more than 80 percent of cases.1 This disease arises in the hepatocytes, the cells that make up most of the liver.1 Worldwide, this cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths, but it is not as common in the United States where it ranks at ninth.2

On a global scale, 78 percent of liver cancer cases are secondary to chronic Hepatitis B or C infections.2 Another risk factor is cirrhosis, a chronic disease where scar tissue replaces liver cells.1 An estimated 28,720 new cases were diagnosed in the Unites States in 2012.1 View additional information on liver cancer.

TCGA researchers have:

  • Comprehensively analyzed 196 hepatocellular carcinoma cases
  • Confirmed frequent mutations in the TERT promotor region, an area of the chromosome that regulates cell survival, in TP53, the most frequently mutated gene in cancer, and in CTNNB1, a member of the Wnt signaling pathway that mediates cell growth and differentiation
  • Identified genetic alterations in hepatocellular carcinoma that may be targeted by therapies that are currently available or under development
  • Mutations of the TERT promotor, found in 44 percent of the cancers studied, may be targeted with telomerase inhibitors that are under development
    • Many tumors with normal TP53 genes in the study were influenced by expression of a gene that inhibits p53 called MDM4, which can be inhibited by investigational drugs
    • Twenty percent of the tumors studied showed elevated expression of genes that encode proteins that help evade the immune system, suggesting that this subset of cancers may be sensitive to immunotherapies that strengthen the immune system’s surveillance

See more about TCGA's study on liver cancer.

Where can I find more information about the TCGA Research Network's studies, or studies using TCGA data?

View a list of TCGA scientific publications.

Where can I find clinical trials to treat Liver Hepatocellular Carcinoma that are supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI)?


View a list of NCI-supported liver hepatocellular carcinoma clinical trials that are now accepting patients.


Selected References 

1American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts and Figures 2012. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society, 2012

2Hepatocellular Carcinoma – United States, 2001-2006. (7 May 2010). Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5917a3.htm