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Alan Franciscus
Editor-in-Chief
HCV Advocate
HBV Advocate

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Limitations in Liver Cancer Screening Uncovered

Recent studies have uncovered the limitations in screening for primary liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The first study found that, if given the choice during a clinical trial, most patients with cirrhosis prefer surveillance over the possibility of non-screening, therefore making a randomized study of HCC screening not feasible. A second study determined that ultrasonographic screening at three monthly versus six monthly intervals did not improve the detection of small liver cancers.

Medical evidence reports HCC to be the sixth most common cancer and the third most common cause of cancer death worldwide, with 90% of all cases in western countries attributed to chronic liver diseases, typically at the cirrhosis stage. The National Cancer Institute estimates that more than 26,000 cases and close to 20,000 deaths from liver and bile duct cancer occurred in the U.S. in 2011. Clinical guidelines recommend routine screening for HCC, but the efficacy and optimal intervals for testing are strongly debated by experts.

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