Brain metastases from hepatocellular carcinoma in US patients

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SummaryHepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a disease on the rise in the United States, due to the epidemic of hepatitis C-induced liver disease. Better chemotherapy options, aggressive surgery, and liver transplantation have led to improved patient survival and an increase in late-appearing, distant metastases from HCC. Brain metastases, although formerly thought of as rare manifestations of HCC, may be more likely to come to clinical and pathological attention than extrahepatic metastases in other sites since they often produce clinical symptoms that necessitate neurosurgical intervention and metastasis removal. In addition, brain metastases from HCC are frequently associated with mass-producing hemorrhage, further requiring evacuation. Hence, pathologists are relatively more likely to encounter brain metastases from HCC as surgical specimens than metastases from HCC to some other common sites of spread, such as bone, lymph nodes, or adrenal. Brain metastases from HCC are being increasingly documented in areas of the world with high endemic rates such as Asia, but thus far have only very rarely been reported in patients native to the United States. We describe our institution's experience with three Caucasian US males, two with hepatitis C as risk factors, who developed metastatic HCC to the brain. We expect clinicians and pathologists will encounter more patients with HCC and extrahepatic metastases, particularly those to brain, in the near future.

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