Successful treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma with the tyrosine kinase inhibitor imatinib in a patient with liver cirrhosis

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Several mechanisms of development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients with liver cirrhosis have been discussed. One hypothesis suggests that the somatic stem cells of the liver, the so-called oval cells, may undergo malignant transformation. Oval cells are derived from the biliary cells of the canal of Hering and are characterized by c-kit-positivity, the transmembrane receptor of stem cell factor. Constitutively activated tyrosine kinases have been identified as major pathogenetic mechanisms in the development of malignant diseases like gastrointestinal stromal tumors (c-kit) and chronic myelogenous leukemia (bcr–abl). The prognosis of these diseases improved enormously since the drug imatinib, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor of c-kit and bcr–abl, was introduced. Here we report the successful cure of a patient with liver cancer by this tyrosine kinase inhibitor.

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