About AHCC Trials Group
The Asia-Pacific Hepatocellular Carcinoma (AHCC) Trials Group is a collaborative research group formed in 1997 by clinicians from major medical centres in the Asia-Pacific region. These clinicians share a common goal of seeking efficacious treatments for HCC and recognize the urgency of the situation and the necessity for collaboration for efficacious therapies to be developed for the large number of patients with HCC. The mission of the AHCC network is to conduct preventive and therapeutic trials in HCC, carry out translational research in this field and develop training and educational programs pertaining to HCC.
The first randomised controlled trial of the group was initiated by the Singapore General Hospital as a single centre prospective HCC clinical trial. The trial expanded rapidly to a multi-centre trial in the Asia-Pacific region. The Trials Group has since launched 6 multi-centre trials that has involved 40 participating centres from 17 countries and has enrolled more than 1000 patients. Additional trials are in the pipeline and the group is in discussions with biotech and pharmaceutical groups with a view towards future collaborations.
While Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) is the 6th most common cancer in the world and afflicts almost a million people yearly, it is the 2nd most important cause of cancer death. There is great geographical variation in the distribution of HCC and 80% of this cancer is found in the Asia-Pacific region. In Asia, it is the 3rd most common cancer. While surgical resection (and in some cases liver transplantation) offers patients with HCC the most consistent and significant survival advantage, only less than 20% of these patients can receive resection as a therapy at the time they are diagnosed. This is because of the advanced stage of the disease at the time of diagnosis.
About 30% of inoperable patients may benefit from existing therapies that prolong lives but the outcome and survival of the remaining inoperable patients remains grave. Even in the group of patients treated with surgical resection, long term survival has remained unsatisfactory because of recurrent carcinoma and progressive liver disease. Chemoprevention in patients at high risk for HCC has also not been clearly established. There is thus an urgent need for more clinical trials in HCC (palliative, adjuvant and chemoprevention) to develop new and efficacious therapies, especially in parts of the world where the disease burden is highest. Studies that move Precision Medicine into the clinics are especially important.