Hepatocellular carcinoma surveillance in Australia: time to improve the diagnosis of cirrhosis and use liver ultrasound

George Larcos
Med J Aust 2020; 213 (9): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.50806
Published online: 2 November 2020

To the Editor: The recent discussion on chronic liver disease and ultrasonographic surveillance is welcome.1 Over two decades ago, investigators at Westmead Hospital in Sydney showed that ultrasonographic surveillance of 232 Australian patients with chronic liver disease (most of whom had cirrhosis) was superior to α‐fetoprotein in the detection of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).2 In this research, we detected six HCCs with ultrasound for an annual cohort incidence of 1.4%; we calculated that each HCC detected cost $US8472 (in 1998 dollar terms). Further, the superior detection of HCCs with ultrasonography did not translate into improved survival either because of tumour multicentricity, metastases at diagnosis, or patient comorbidity factors precluding surgery.

  • George Larcos

  • Westmead Hospital, Sydney, NSW

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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