The search for biomarkers of hepatocellular carcinoma and the impact on patient outcome

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HighlightsEarly detection is an essential effective treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma.Current biomarkers for early detection of hepatocellular carcinoma are lacking.Proteomics and glycomics may provide key sources of cancer biomarkers.Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the 5th most common cancer, but the 3rd leading cause of cancer death globally with approximately 700,000 fatalities annually. The severity of this cancer arises from its difficulty to detect and treat. The major etiologies of HCC are liver fibrosis or cirrhosis from chronic viral infections, as well as metabolic conditions. Since most cases arise from prior pathologies, biomarker surveillance in high-risk individuals is an essential approach for early detection and improved patient outcome. While many molecular biomarkers have been associated with HCC, there are few that have made clinical impact for this disease. Here we review some major approaches used for HCC biomarker discovery — proteomics and glycomics — and describe new methodologies being tested for biomarker development.

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