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Ann Intern Med. 1988 Mar;108(3):390-401.

NIH conference. Hepatocellular carcinoma.


Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most frequent cancer worldwide, responsible for approximately 1,000,000 deaths annually, most of them in the Far East and in sub-Saharan Africa. It usually presents at an advanced stage and has a poor prognosis. There is evidence of an etiologic role for hepatitis B virus infection in the etiology of hepatocellular carcinoma. Carriers of the virus are 94 times more at risk for hepatocellular carcinoma than noncarriers. In many cases hepatitis B virus DNA is integrated within the cellular genome of the tumor. Programs have been established to detect hepatocellular carcinoma at an early stage; persons at high risk are regularly screened by measurement of serum alpha-fetoprotein levels and ultrasound examination of the liver. Surgical resection offers the only hope of cure at present, as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and immunotherapy have not shown promise. Ideally, surgery should be done on small asymptomatic tumors.

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