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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2013 Aug;38(3):303-12. doi: 10.1111/apt.12370. Epub 2013 Jun 10.

Surveillance for hepatocellular cancer with ultrasonography vs. computed tomography -- a randomised study.

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1
Hepatitis C Resource Center, Minneapolis VA Health Care System, Minneapolis, MN 55417, USA. pocha004@umn.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Guidelines recommend screening for hepatocellular cancer (HCC) with ultrasonography. The performance of ultrasonography varies widely. Computed tomography (CT) is less operator dependent.

AIM:

To compare the performance and cost of twice-a-year ultrasonography to once-a-year triple-phase-contrast CT for HCC screening in veterans. We hypothesised that CT detects smaller HCCs at lower overall cost.

METHOD:

One hundred and sixty-three subjects with compensated cirrhosis were randomised to biannual ultrasonography or yearly CT. Twice-a-year alpha-feto protein testing was performed in all patients. Contingency table analysis using chi-squared tests was used to determine differences in sensitivity and specificity of screening arms, survival analysis with Kaplan-Meier method to determine cumulative cancer rates. Multivariate logistic regression models were used to examine predictive factors.

RESULTS:

Hepatocellular cancer incidence rate was 6.6% per year. Nine HCCs were detected by ultrasonography and eight by CT. Sensitivity and specificity were 71.4% and 97.5%, respectively, for ultrasonography vs. 66.7% and 94.4%, respectively, for CT. Although 58.8% of screen-detected HCC were early stage (Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer stage A), only 23.5% received potentially curative treatment despite all treatment options being available. HCC-related and overall mortality were 70.5% and 82.3%, respectively, in patients with screen-detected tumour. Overall costs were less for biannual ultrasonography than annual CT.

CONCLUSIONS:

Biannual ultrasonography was marginally more sensitive and less costly for detection of early HCC compared with annual CT. Despite early detection, HCC-related mortality was high. These data support the use of biannual ultrasonography for HCC surveillance in a US patient population (NCT01350167).

PMID:
23750991
DOI:
10.1111/apt.12370
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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