Alpha-foetoprotein and/or liver ultrasonography for screening of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with chronic hepatitis B

Department of Family Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada.
Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) (Impact Factor: 6.03). 09/2012; 9(9):CD002799. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD002799.pub2
Source: PubMed


Chronic hepatitis B virus infection is a risk factor for development of hepatocellular carcinoma. Alpha-foetoprotein and liver ultrasonography are used to screen patients with chronic hepatitis B for hepatocellular carcinoma. It is uncertain whether screening is worthwhile.
To determine the beneficial and harmful effects of alpha-foetoprotein or ultrasound, or both, for screening of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with chronic hepatitis B virus infection.
Electronic searches were performed until December 2011 in the Cochrane Hepato-Biliary Group Controlled Trials Register (December 2011), Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (2011, Issue 4) in The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE (1948 to 2011), EMBASE (1980 to 2011), Science Citation Index Expanded (1900 to 2011), Chinese Medical Literature Electronic Database (WanFang Data 1998 to 2011), and Chinese Knowledge Resource Integrated Database (1994 to 2011).
All published reports of randomised trials on screening for liver cancer were eligible for inclusion, irrespective of language of publication. Studies were excluded when the hepatitis B status was uncertain, the screening tests were not sensitive or widely-used, or when the test was used for diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma rather than screening.
We independently analysed all the trials considered for inclusion. We wrote to the authors of one of the trials to obtain further information.
Three randomised clinical trials were included in this review. All of them had a high risk of bias. One trial was conducted in Shanghai, China. There are several published reports on this trial, in which data were presented differently. According to the 2004 trial report, participants were randomised to screening every six months with alpha-foetoprotein and ultrasonography (n = 9373) versus no screening (n = 9443). We could not draw any definite conclusions from it. A second trial was conducted in Toronto, Canada. In this trial, there were 1069 participants with chronic hepatitis B. The trial compared screening every six months with alpha-foetoprotein alone (n = 532) versus alpha-foetoprotein and ultrasound (n = 538) over a period of five years. This trial was designed as a pilot trial; the small number of participants and the rare events did not allow an effective comparison between the two modes of screening that were studied. The remaining trial, conducted in Taiwan and published as an abstract, was designed as a cluster randomised trial to determine the optimal interval for screening using alpha foetoprotein and ultrasound. Screening intervals of four months and 12 months were compared in the two groups. Further details about the screening strategy were not available. The trial reported on cumulative four-year survival, cumulative three-year incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma, and mean tumour size. The cumulative four-year survival was not significantly different between the two screening intervals. The incidence of hepatocellular cancer was higher in the four-monthly screening group. The included trials did not report on adverse events. It appears that the sensitivity and specificity of the screening modes were poor, accounting for a substantial number of false-positive and false-negative screening results.
There is not enough evidence to support or refute the value of alpha-foetoprotein or ultrasound screening, or both, of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) positive patients for hepatocellular carcinoma. More and better designed randomised trials are required to compare screening against no screening.

23 Reads
  • Source
    • "The diagnosis of HCC without pathologic confirmation can be achieved by assessing the serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) level combined with imaging techniques, including ultrasonography, magnetic resonance imaging, and computerized tomography [31,32]. However, improvement in early diagnosis is still needed because only 44% of the patients are diagnosed at a localized disease stage, and only 30% of patients with HCC are candidates for potentially curative treatments at the time of diagnosis [33]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common malignant tumors in the world. Currently, surgical resection, liver transplantation, and local ablation are considered curative therapeutic practices for HCC. The diagnosis of HCC without pathologic confirmation is achieved by analyzing serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) levels combined with imaging techniques, including ultrasonography, magnetic resonance imaging, and computerized tomography. Although progress has been made in the diagnosis and management of HCC, its prognosis remains dismal. Various new technologies have identified numerous novel biomarkers with potential diagnostic as well as prognostic value, including Dickkopf-1 and Golgi protein 73. These biomarkers not only help in the early diagnosis and prediction of prognosis, but also assist in identifying potential targets for therapeutic interventions. In this article, we provide an up-to-date review of the biomarkers that are used for early diagnosis, prognosis prediction, and personalized treatment of HCC.
    02/2013; 1(1). DOI:10.1186/2050-7771-1-10
    • "Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common primary malignant liver tumor and usually occurs in the setting of cirrhosis and chronic hepatitis B and C infections. Earlier detection of HCC allows initiation of curative therapy and for this, surveillance in cirrhotic patients is performed with alpha-fetoprotein testing and sonography.[8] Sonographic features of HCC are variable with sensitivity as low as 20.5%[9] to as high as 81%.[10] "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Recent advances in radiology have greatly increased the ability to make highly accurate diagnosis. Biopsy of many commonly seen lesions is no longer performed as the radiological findings are pathognomonic. This gives rise to the concept of 'virtual biopsy', a term coined on the lines of other imaging techniques such as virtual colonoscopy. Virtual biopsy is not a new imaging technique but a new concept which refers to the use of existing imaging modalities to evaluate the morphological features of tumors and arriving at a non-invasive diagnosis with a high degree of confidence obviating the need for true biopsy. Elements of virtual biopsy have already been incorporated into some evidence-based guidelines, and it is expected that with further technological advancements, an increasing number of tumors may be diagnosed and managed accordingly. A wider acceptance of virtual biopsy could further reduce the need for invasive biopsies and its attendant costs and risks. In this review article, we use index cases to further emphasize this concept.
    Journal of Clinical Imaging Science 01/2013; 3(1):6. DOI:10.4103/2156-7514.106621
  • Source
    Song ·

    Bioscience trends 01/2013; DOI:10.5582/bst.2013.v7.1.1 · 1.66 Impact Factor
Show more

Similar Publications