Published online Oct 31, 2009. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v1.i1.3
Revised: March 8, 2009
Accepted: March 15, 2009
Published online: October 31, 2009
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a disease prevalent in many populations worldwide. It initiates many economic and health problems in management modalities and leads to increasing mortality rates. Worldwide, trials have attempted to discover specific early markers for detection and prediction of the disease, hoping to set a more precise strategy for liver cancer prevention. Unfortunately, many economic, cultural and disciplinary levels contribute to confounding preventive strategies. Many risk factors contribute to predisposition to HCC, which can present individually or simultaneously. Previous articles discussed many risk factors for hepatocellular carcinogenesis; however, most of them didn't consider collectively the most recent data relating to causes. In this article, the pathogenesis and risk factors of HCC are discussed. Most of the intermediary steps of HCC involve molecular and transcriptional events leading to hepatocyte malignant transformation. These steps are mainly triggered by hepatitis B, C or transfusion-transmitted virus, either alone, or with other factors. Diabetes seems to be a major contributing risk factor. Schistosomiasis, a blood infestation, mostly affects Nile basin inhabitants leading to bladder, renal and hepatic cancers. Alcoholism, food and water pollutants and some drugs can also lead to HCC. Additionally, some hereditary diseases, as hemochromatosis, α-1-antitrypsin deficiency and tyrosinaemia are known to lead to the development of HCC, if not well managed.