MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Amit Singal MD MS
David Bruton Jr. Professor in Clinical Cancer Research
Associate Professor of Medicine
Medical Director of Liver Tumor Program
Clinical Chief of Hepatology
University of Texas Southwestern
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common form of primary liver cancer, often has a very poor prognosis because most cancers are found at a late stage when curative treatment is not available. However, if the cancer is found early, curative therapies are possible and patients can typically live longer than 5 years.
There is currently debate how at-risk patients with chronic liver disease should be screened – with an abdominal ultrasound alone or using a combination of abdominal ultrasound and a blood test called alpha fetoprotein. Many professional societies have traditionally recommended the former, i.e. ultrasound alone, given few data showing a benefit of adding alpha fetoprotein.
Our study examines all available literature examining this question and found using the two tests in combination significantly increases the likelihood of finding the cancer at an early stage. Whereas abdominal ultrasound misses over half of all cancers, using it in combination with alpha fetoprotein can detect two-thirds of cancers at an early stage. Continue reading