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Sci Rep. 2018 Aug 24;8(1):12787. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-31119-9.

Mass screening for liver cancer: results from a demonstration screening project in Zhongshan City, China.

Author information

1
Cancer Research Institute of Zhongshan City, Zhongshan City People's Hospital, Zhongshan, Guangdong, P. R. China.
2
Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
3
Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, , National Cancer Institute, 9609 Medical Center Drive, Rockville, Maryland, USA.
4
Exponent, Inc., Health Sciences, Menlo Park, California, USA.
5
Division of Epidemiology, Department of Health Research and Policy, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA.
6
Institute for Prevention & Control of Non-Communicable Chronic Diseases, Zhongshan Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Zhongshan, Guangdong, P. R. China.
7
Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. yewm@sysucc.org.cn.
8
Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center, State Key Laboratory of Oncology in South China, Collaborative Innovation Center for Cancer Medicine, Guangzhou, P. R. China. yewm@sysucc.org.cn.

Abstract

Current Chinese national guidelines recommend routine screening for liver cancer in patients positive for HBsAg, irrespective of fibrosis status, age, or family history of liver cancer. We aim to evaluate whether the recommended screening strategy could reduce liver-cancer-specific mortality. We conducted a liver cancer mass screening trial in Xiaolan Town, Zhongshan City, China, among residents aged 35-64 years in 2012. All volunteers were offered serological testing for hepatitis B virus surface antigen (HBsAg). We proposed biannual screening using serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) and ultrasonography examination for subjects positive for HBsAg. Among 17,966 participants (26.2% of 68,510 eligible residents) who were free of liver cancer at baseline in 2012, we identified 57 incident cases of liver cancer within the first 4 years of follow-up (i.e., 43 among 2,848 HBsAg-positive participants and 14 among 15,118 HBsAg-negative participants), compared with 104 cases identified in non-participants (N = 50,544). A total of 207 participants had the recommended number of ultrasonography examinations (every 6 months) during the screening period. Compared with cases identified from non-participants, the cases arising among participants were more likely to be at early stage and had better survival than those among non-participants. However, we did not observe a reduction in liver cancer-specific mortality rate among participants (relative risk = 1.04, 95% confidence interval = 0.68, 1.58, P = 0.856). Our demonstration screening study does not show a reduction in liver cancer mortality within the first 4 years of follow-up according to current guidance in China, although long-term efficacy remains to be evaluated. Targeted surveillance among high-risk individuals as recommended by international guidelines, along with measures to improve compliance, should be evaluated in the Chinese population.

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