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 recognise 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, which went on to expand rapidly into a multi-centre trial in the Asia-Pacific region. The Trials Group has since completed 8 prospective, multi-centre clinical studies in HCC that has involved more than 50 participating centres from 17 countries and has enrolled more than 3,000 patients. New trials are in the pipeline and the group has established strong alliances with industries and pharmaceutical companies.
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 with 80% of the burden 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 are diagnosed early enough to undergo surgical resection as a therapy.
About 30% of inoperable patients may benefit from existing therapies that prolong life but the outcome and survival of the remaining inoperable patients remains grave. Even with surgical resection, long term survival of HCC patients has remained unsatisfactory due to 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. These studies will change clinical practice and pave the way towards actualising Precision Oncology in HCC, thereby improving patient outcomes.