Clinical care in hepatocellular carcinoma: A mixed methods assessment of experiences and challenges of oncology professionals

Ginny Jacobs*, Deborah A. Boyle, Hashem B. El-Serag, Robert J. Lewandowski, Stacey M. Stein, Patrice Lazure, Pam McFadden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: Healthcare providers (HCPs) may face numerous dilemmas in optimally screening, diagnosing, and treating patients with, and/or at risk for, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). This study aimed to achieve a greater understanding of the challenges in HCC care which in turn could delineate HCP educational opportunities within this oncologic sub-specialty. Methods: A mixed-methods approach was used to identify practice gaps and clinical barriers experienced by US-based medical oncologists, hepatologists, oncology physician assistants, oncology nurse practitioners, and interventional radiologists involved in HCC care. The qualitative (semi-structured interview) and quantitative (survey) data collection approaches were deployed sequentially with findings subsequently triangulated. Results: A total of 214 HCPs participated in this study. Analysis revealed challenges related to screening and diagnosing HCC, specifically in applying appropriate screening guidelines, and the optimal use and decisions related to diagnostic imaging and biopsy. Issues related to treatment selection included the application of existing HCC guidelines in treatment decision-making, weighing risk/benefit ratios of various antineoplastics regimens (i.e., tyrosine kinase inhibitors-TKIs, immunotherapy agents, chemotherapy), sequencing therapies, potential toxicity management, and optimally educating patients about their HCC. Conclusion: These findings highlight the educational needs of those involved in HCC care and provide a starting point for clinicians to both reflect on their practice and identify opportunities to enhance communication within the HCC team and between provider and patient. There is an opportunity to optimize continuing professional development interventions that address the identified gaps in clinical practice specifically related to teamwork and interdisciplinary communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3670-3683
Number of pages14
JournalCancer medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • cancer management
  • hepatocellular carcinoma
  • liver cancer
  • medical oncology
  • screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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