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Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2014 Oct;28(5):783-93. doi: 10.1016/j.bpg.2014.08.008. Epub 2014 Aug 23.

Surveillance for hepatocellular carcinoma.

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University of Toronto, University Health Network, Toronto General Hospital, 200 Elizabeth Street, Toronto, ON M5G 2C4, Canada. Electronic address:


When hepatocellular carcinoma presents with symptoms cure is seldom possible and death usually follows within months. However, it is possible to detect HCC early, at which stage it is curable. This requires a surveillance program. The components of such a program include: identification of the at risk population, provision of appropriate surveillance tests, and an appropriate method of determining whether the abnormalities found on screening are cancer or not. Surveillance for liver cancer meets all these criteria. Unfortunately high quality evidence showing benefit of liver cancer surveillance is lacking, but lesser quality evidence is plentiful, including several cost efficacy analyses that all show that surveillance does decrease mortality. Therefore all the continental liver disease societies and all national liver disease societies have recommended that surveillance should be undertaken.


Alpha fetoprotein; Cancer screening; Desgamma carboxy prothrombin; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Ultrasonography

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