Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is an aggressive malignancy mainly due to tumor metastases or recurrence even after undergoing potentially curative treatment. There are two types of HCC recurrence. The early and late tumor recurrences appear in distinct biological contexts, and their clinical courses are quite different. Therefore, it is important to precisely and distinctly discriminate the risk of each type of HCC recurrence. Many researchers have used DNA microarray technology to reclassify HCC with respect to its malignant potential. Some of these studies successfully identified specific gene-expression signatures derived from the cancerous tissues of HCC for predicting the early recurrence due to intrahepatic metastasis. However, there are no well-defined predictors for late recurrence. Recently, a few studies have focused on the nontumorous portion of liver tissues to predict late recurrence, possibly due to de novo hepatocarcinogenesis based on the idea of "field cancerization." This study reviewed the possible value of a gene-expression analysis of noncancerous liver tissue to clarify the risk for multicentric late recurrence of HCC. These findings may have important implications for chemopreventive strategies and tailored surveillance programs. Furthermore, this approach may also be applicable to other multifocal tumors, such as head and neck carcinoma.
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