This year, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) – the most common type of cancer that starts in the liver – will account for 75% of all new liver cancer cases and more than 30,000 deaths in the US. The incidence of HCC in Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black populations is nearly twice that of non-Hispanic whites. Most HCC patients aren’t candidates for surgical removal of the tumor or liver transplantation, leaving several locoregional (minimally invasive, image-guided) therapy options, including radiofrequency ablation, microwave ablation, yttrium-90 radioembolization, and transarterial chemoembolization (TACE). Currently, there’s no evidence-based strategy for choosing the best treatment strategy because experts don’t fully understand how HCC tumor biology affects the response to therapy. In this talk, Carle Illinois College of Medicine student Vish Vijayakumar presents a research study involving 47 HCC patients that revealed treatment response was related to several factors: p53 gene signaling, DNA repair, and metabolism. The results also demonstrate differences in HCC tumor biology are associated with ethnoracial populations and how tumors respond to locoregional therapies. The findings provide useful information to help reduce HCC disparities and may result in more precise treatment approaches.
Vish Vijayakumar is a second-year medical student at Carle Illinois College of Medicine. He is interested in cancer research in the fields of genomics and medical imaging to help improve patient outcomes. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago. For this project, he worked with the Institute for Genomic Biology and Dr. Kyle Schachtschneider, who is affiliated with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications.