Screen Test for Liver Cancer: Ready for Your Close-Up?

Study shows patients with cirrhosis and hepatitis C are not adequately screened for liver cancer

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Patients with cirrhosis are at higher risk of developing a form of cancer known as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

 Using electronic administrative records, researchers looked at whether screening tests to detect HCC were done in patients with HCV infection and cirrhosis. They found that only 12 percent of patients with HCV infection and cirrhosis were routinely screened (meaning tests were conducted two years in a row) for HCC; more than 58 percent of the those studied received inconsistent screening (defined as one test not routinely administered); and nearly 30 percent of the patients did not receive any HCC testing.

Researchers studied 128,505 patients with HCV infection treated in the Veterans Affairs health care system between 1998 to 2005, approximately 10 percent of whom had cirrhosis. The researchers concluded more research is needed to look at ways of improving screening rates for these high-risk populations.

Cirrhosis patients should be checked annually for the cancer via blood test or ultrasonography. Patients with hepatitis C virus sometimes develop cirrhosis.

Some symptoms of liver disease include jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), coated tongue, excessive sweating, swollen and itchy eyes, chills, dark urine and pale stool.

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Review Date: 
January 23, 2011
Last Updated:
January 24, 2011