The burden of liver cancer is higher in Hispanics, African Americans, and Asians. Viral hepatitis (Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C viruses), non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), and alcoholic liver disease (ALD) are the most common etiological/risk factors for liver cancer. Approximately 80–90% of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) occurs in patients with underlying liver cirrhosis. Individuals with advanced cirrhosis represent a high-risk group for liver cancer. To fill the increasing gap between basic science and clinical research, translational research has been developed as an emerging technology. Basic science attempts to unravel the mechanisms of disease using tools (e.g., culture systems and animal models) that allow for easy manipulation of biological processes. Further, culture systems and animal models are useful to derive causal associations, but they generally do not include an endpoint directly applicable to clinical practice. Hence, development of new tools for early detection, including the evaluation of liquid biopsy, identification of tissue biomarkers of treatment response, execution of precision and enhancement of patient stratification in patients at risk for HCC development to enable chemoprevention clinical trials becomes important. It was identified as translational research has begun as an effective approach to facilitate the development of novel molecular-based biomarkers and to accelerate the implementation of laboratory discoveries into clinically applicable tools. Despite great advancement in diagnosis and management of HCC, the exact biology of the tumor remains poorly understood generally limiting the clinical outcome. Comprehensive analysis and characterization of the molecular mechanisms and subsequently individual prediction of corresponding prognostic traits would transform both diagnosis and treatment of HCC and is the key goal of modern medicine. To overcome the challenge and to accelerate the progress, a collaborative effort from various clinical research groups and translational approach is needed.
Part of the book: Translational Research in Cancer