The surveillance and diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma.
Danta M., Barnes E., Dusheiko G.
The increasing incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is becoming a considerable problem in Europe. While no national surveillance programme exists, there is increasing evidence that surveillance programmes are efficacious and may be cost-effective. The prognosis of large, symptomatic HCC is poor and only palliative treatment is available. In contrast small tumours are now amenable to several modes of treatment including liver transplantation, surgical resection and loco-regional ablation with acceptable 5 year survival rates. Therefore, the identification of small lesions through screening should prolong survival. Consequently, the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) has recommended surveillance with ultrasound scans and tests for alpha fetoprotein every 6 months. Screening is now routine clinical practice in many parts of the developed world.