Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the primary type of liver cancer, and both the age-adjusted incidence and mortality of HCC have steadily increased in recent years. Advanced HCC is associated with a very poor survival rate. Despite accumulating data regarding the risk factors for HCC, the mechanisms that contribute to HCC tumorigenesis remain poorly understood. Signaling through the fibroblast growth factor (FGF) family is involved in fibrosis and its progression to cirrhosis of the liver, which is a risk factor for the development of HCC. Furthermore, several alterations in FGF/FGF receptor (FGFR) signaling correlate with the outcomes of HCC patients, suggesting that signaling through this family of proteins contributes to the development or progression of HCC tumors. Currently, there are no established systemic treatments for patients with advanced HCC in whom sorafenib treatment has failed or who were unable to tolerate it. Recently, several multikinase inhibitors that target FGFRs have demonstrated some early evidence of antitumor activity in phase I/II trials. Therefore, this review discusses the molecular implications of FGFR-mediated signaling in HCC and summarizes the clinical evidence for novel FGFR-targeted therapies for HCC currently being studied in clinical trials.
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