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Oncology. 2002;62 Suppl 1:57-63.

Tumor markers in early diagnosis, follow-up and management of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma.

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Third Department of Internal Medicine, Kumamoto University School of Medicine, Japan.


The mainstay for the diagnosis for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) includes serological tumor markers, such as alpha-fetoprotein, the L3 fraction thereof and PIVKA-II, in addition to imaging modalities. They do not correlate, but complement each other. Hence, a combination of them designed on the basis of their characteristics needs to be worked out. First, it is necessary to identify the patients at high risk for developing HCC, such as those with chronic hepatitis or liver cirrhosis, and in the follow-up conduct regular check-ups for serological tumor markers. Those testing positive for any marker are at the highest risk for developing HCC, even when imaging fails to disclose any space-occupying lesions. Following high-risk patients for serological tumor markers, in concert with imaging, makes accurate evaluation of the efficacy of therapies for HCC possible. Since serological tumor markers can signal the development of HCC earlier than any other laboratory tests, they offer excellent means of identifying relapsing HCC. Equally important in the management of patients with HCC are biological indicators for malignancy, the selection of therapeutic interventions and the prediction of the outcome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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