The most frequent liver tumor in children is hepatoblastoma (HB), which derives from embryonic parenchymal liver cells or hepatoblasts. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), which rarely affects young people, causes one fourth of deaths due to cancer in adults. In contrast, HB usually has better prognosis, but this is still poor in 20% of cases. Although more responsive to chemotherapy than HCC, the failure of pharmacological treatment used before and/or after surgical resection is an important limitation in the management of patients with HB. To advance in the implementation of personalized medicine it is important to select the best combination among available anti-HB drugs, such as platinum derivatives, anthracyclines, etoposide, tyrosine-kinase inhibitors, Vinca
alkaloids, 5-fluorouracil, monoclonal antibodies, irinotecan and nitrogen mustards. This requires predicting the sensitivity to these drugs of each tumor at each time because, it should be kept in mind, that cancer chemoresistance is a dynamic process of Darwinian nature. For this goal it is necessary to improve our understanding of the mechanisms of chemoresistance involved in the refractoriness of HB against the pharmacological challenge and how they evolve during treatment. In this review we have summarized the current knowledge on the multifactorial and complex factors responsible for the lack of response of HB to chemotherapy.
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