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Scand J Gastroenterol. 1993 Jun;28(6):540-4.

Hepatocellular carcinoma in liver cirrhosis. A prospective study.

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  • 1First Dept. of Internal Medicine, Piacenza Hospital, Italy.


From January 1984 to December 1991 we carried out a prospective surveillance of the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in 200 cirrhotic patients, monitored from the first histologic diagnosis of cirrhosis. Real-time ultrasonography (US) and serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) assays were performed every 3-6 months. During this period we detected HCC in 38 patients. The overall cumulative incidence of HCC in the 8 years was 41%, with a yearly incidence of 5.1%. Eighteen of 38 patients (48%) had a tumor < 5 cm in diameter. AFP reached diagnostic levels (> 500 ng/ml) in eight cases only (21%). Patients with initial AFP values > 20 ng/ml developed HCC more frequently than patients with values < or = 20 ng/ml; the percentage of HCC was statistically higher (p < 0.01) in patients in Child's B and C than in Child's A class. A periodic follow-up, using US and AFP, is suggested for the early diagnosis of HCC in cirrhotic patients.

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