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Liver Cancer Screening and Prevention

1. Guidelines for Screening


Risk factors

Screening is considered cost effective for:

Hepatitis B carriers when the risk is >0.2% / year

Hepatitis C carriers when the risk is >1.5% / year

Asian male hepatitis B carriers age >40

Asian female hepatitis B carriers age >50

Hepatitis B carriers with a family history of HCC

African / North American Blacks with Hepatitis B

Cirrhotic hepatitis B carriers

Hepatitis C cirrhosis

Primary biliary cirrhosis (Stage 4)

Genetic hemachromatosis and cirrhosis

Alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency and cirrhosis

Other cirrhosis



Patients at increased risk as defined above should be entered into a surveillance program

Abdominal ultrasonography imaging every 6 months


Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) and DCP (Prothrombin Induced by Vitamin K                 

Absence II (PIVKA II) are not recommended for liver cancer screening

2. Cancer Prevention

In the United States, liver cancer can usually be avoided by preventing viral hepatitis and cirrhosis. A vaccine can protect healthy people from contracting hepatitis B. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all children should be vaccinated. Newborn nursery vaccination is recommended. Adults should be vaccinated if they have not been exposed to hepatitis B.

There is no vaccine against hepatitis C, which is most often associated with current or previous intravenous (IV) drug abuse. Blood banks in the United States check donated blood to make sure that blood carrying the hepatitis viruses is not used.

Cirrhosis can be avoided by not abusing alcohol and preventing viral hepatitis. Most industrialized countries have regulations to protect people from cancer-causing chemicals; in the United States, such regulations have virtually eliminated these chemicals as a cause of HCC.

There is increasing evidence that certain medications can control chronic hepatitis B or C infection. Hepatitis B can be treated with a combination of antiviral drugs such as interferon-alpha, lamivudine, and adefovir. Hepatitis C can be treated with interferon-alpha and ribavirin.

Avoid drug abuse and contaminated needles and practice safe sex.

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