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Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2006 Dec;4(12):1528-36.

Staging hepatocellular carcinoma by a novel scoring system (BALAD score) based on serum markers.

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Department of Gastroenterology, Ogaki Municipal Hospital, Ogaki, and Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Kinki University School of Medicine, Osaka-Sayama, Japan.



Previously proposed staging systems for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) involve clinical, imaging, or pathologic factors in the evaluation. We established and validated a novel staging system for HCC that is based on simply serum markers.


The new scoring system is based on 5 serum markers: bilirubin, albumin, Lens culinaris agglutinin-reactive alpha-fetoprotein (AFP-L3), alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), and des-gamma-carboxy prothrombin (DCP) and thus is termed the BALAD score. The system was validated in 2600 HCC patients from 5 institutions. The power of our system to predict patient survival and its discriminative ability were compared with those of previously reported staging systems.


The best tumor marker cutoff values were 400 ng/dL for AFP, 15% for AFP-L3, and 100 milli-arbitrary unit/mL for DCP. The patients were classified into 6 categories on the basis of 5 laboratory values. The categories reflected patient survival well. The discriminative ability was comparable to that of previously reported staging systems.


The new staging system for HCC combining serum albumin, serum bilirubin, and 3 tumor markers predicts patient outcomes with excellent discriminative ability. The system is easy to use and objective. In addition, stage can be evaluated with the use of only 1 serum sample. It also allows global comparison of patients with HCC or comparison of patients from different time periods with the same standard.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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