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Hepatocellular cancer (HCC) is a lesson in contradictions: preventable yet pervasive; described simultaneously as both rare and common; and among the deadliest of cancers despite the liver's regenerative properties.
HCC is the most common primary malignant liver tumor and the third most common cause of cancer deaths worldwide. HCC is categorized as a rare disease in the United States, although that may change, as the yearly incidence rate of six new cases per every 100,000 people reflects a threefold increase over the past two decades, according to the CDC. This rise in U.S. cases runs parallel to increases in chronic hepatitis C virus and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Worldwide, the primary underlying case is hepatitis B and exposure to foodborne aflatoxins.
For this next lecture in the Demystifying Medicine series, we bring you two experts on HCC. Marc Ghany, in NIDDK's Liver Diseases Branch, focuses on the care of patient volunteers in the NIH Clinical Center with chronic viral hepatitis and the prevention of HCC, cirrhosis, and other liver diseases. His latest research is revealing how innate immunity may contribute to clearance of hepatitis C virus during direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy by preventing the emergence of resistance-associated substitutions that lead to viral breakthrough.
Taking the bridge to the bench, we then hear from Anuradha Budhu in the NCI CCR Laboratory of Human Carcinogenesis. Budhu's research focuses on genome-scale analyses of human liver cancer. Her work on gene, microRNA, and metabolite profiling has led to the identification of important signaling molecules that underlie liver cancer biology, with applications to the clinical management of liver cancer.