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J Liver Cancer > Volume 13(2); 2013 > Article
Journal of the Korean Liver Cancer Study 2013;13(2):93-104.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.17998/jlc.13.2.93    Published online September 30, 2013.
Surveillance for Hepatocellular Carcinoma
Kung-Hung Lin, Wei-Lun Tsai Tsai
Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine, Kaohsiung Veterans General Hospital, Kaohsiung; National Yang-Ming University Shool of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan
Correspondence:  Wei-Lun Tsai Tsai,
Email: tsaiwl@yahoo.com.tw
Copyright ©2013 by The Korean Liver Cancer Association
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth most common cancer and the third leading cause of cancer death worldwide. HCC is a suitable disease for surveillance programs because it is relatively common in patients with chronic liver disease, and has very good prognosis if diagnosed at an early stage. When HCC presents with clinical symptoms, the tumor is typically very far advanced and the patient has few therapeutic options. Individuals with chronic viral hepatitis and other forms of liver disease are at risk for developing HCC. Thus, screening and surveillance for HCC would appear to be very appropriate. However, there is no definitive evidence that surveillance improves patient outcomes and the current surveillance tests have less than optimal sensitivity, specificity and accuracy. Nonetheless, measurement of alpha-fetoprotein levels in serum and ultrasound of the liver have become routine practice in many countries, despite a lack of evidence of their overall benefit. Clearly, better methods are needed for early diagnosis of HCC. This review outlines the target population at risk for HCC and diagnostic techniques for screening and surveillance.
Key Words: Surveillance; Hepatocellular carcinoma


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