Ghassan K. Abou-Alfa, MD, Discusses Importance of Treatment Accessibility in Unresectable HCC


Ghassan K. Abou-Alfa, MD, discusses the importance of improving access to novel therapies and combinations for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma across the world.

In light of the FDA approval of tremelimumab (Imjudo) in combination with durvalumab (Imfinzi) for the treatment of patients with unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma, Ghassan K. Abou-Alfa, MD, an attending physician and board certified medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), spoke with CancerNetwork® about the significance of ensuring equal access to treatment for this disease on an international scale. He discussed the current barriers to treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma, especially those observed in developing countries within Africa, and how his team at MSKCC is working to broaden access.


We have to realize that, sadly, some patients who might be eligible for [treatment with tremelimumab and durvalumab] will never see it. The reason is because they will not have access to it. It’s good news that we have this new therapy that we are beyond thrilled to have. Other than further enhancing benefit from the therapy, we have to find ways to ensure that patients get access to treatment. Considering that liver cancer has one of the highest incidences in the continent of Africa, this really tells you how much we still have to do in regard to our lower-/middle-income countries to make sure they get access to therapy. One of the efforts that we have done at Memorial Sloan Kettering [Cancer Center] along with colleagues from Africa last year was to form a committee of 26 physicians from throughout the whole continent. We asked about what therapies were available to about 500 physicians throughout the continent. It’s amazing how limited the access is. This is really what we owe to our colleagues and our patients, wherever they are in the world: better therapy. I am excited but at the same time, it’s a little bit of a wake-up call to make sure that everybody has access.


Imjudo (tremelimumab) in combination with Imfinzi approved in the US for patients with unresectable liver cancer. News Release. AstraZeneca. October 24, 2022. Accessed October 31, 2022.

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