Current State of Liver-Directed Therapies and Combinatory Approaches with Systemic Therapy in Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC)
The increasing set of liver-directed therapies (LDT) have become an integral part of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) treatment. These range from percutaneous ablative techniques to arterial embolization, and varied radiotherapy strategies. They are now used for local disease control, symptom palliation, and bold curative strategies. The big challenge in the face of these innovative and sometimes overlapping technologies is to identify the best opportunity of use. In real practice, many patients
... ay take benefit from LDT used as a bridge to curative treatment such as resection and liver transplantation. Varying trans-arterial embolization strategies are used, and comparison between established and developing technologies is scarce. Also, radioembolization utilizing yttrium-90 (Y-90) for locally advanced or intermediate-stage HCC needs further evidence of clinical efficacy. There is increasing interest on LDT-led changes in tumor biology that could have implications in systemic therapy efficacy. Foremost, additional to its apoptotic and necrotic properties, LDT could warrant changes in vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression and release. However, trans-arterial chemoembolization (TACE) used alongside tyrosine-kinase inhibitor (TKI) sorafenib has had its efficacy contested. Most recently, interest in associating Y-90 and TKI has emerged. Furthermore, LDT-led differences in tumor immune microenvironment and immune cell infiltration could be an opportunity to enhance immunotherapy efficacy for HCC patients. Early attempts to coordinate LDT and immunotherapy are being made. We here review LDT techniques exposing current evidence to understand its extant reach and future applications alongside systemic therapy development for HCC.