Benefits and Harms of Hepatocellular Carcinoma Surveillance in a Prospective Cohort of Patients With Cirrhosis

Amit G. Singal, Sruthi Patibandla, Joseph Obi, Hannah Fullington, Neehar D. Parikh, Adam C. Yopp, Jorge A. Marrero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: The value of a cancer screening programs is defined by its balance of benefits and harms; however, there are few data evaluating both attributes for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) surveillance. We aimed to characterize benefits and harms of HCC surveillance in a large prospective cohort of patients with cirrhosis. Methods: We conducted a secondary analysis of a clinical trial evaluating HCC surveillance among patients with cirrhosis at a safety-net health system enrolled between December 2014 and July 2015. We quantified surveillance-related benefits, defined as early HCC detection and curative treatment receipt, and physical harms, defined as diagnostic procedures for false positive or indeterminate results, over an 18-month period. Results: Of 614 cirrhosis patients with ≥1 surveillance exam, abnormal results were observed in 118 (19.2%) patients. Twenty-six patients developed HCC during follow-up, of whom 16 (61.5%) were detected by surveillance. The proportion of HCC detected at BCLC stage 0/A (62.5% vs 50%, p = .69) and who underwent curative treatment (43.8% vs. 40.0%, p = 1.0) did not significantly differ between surveillance-detected patients and those diagnosed incidentally/symptomatically. Physical harms were observed in 54 (8.8%) patients who underwent surveillance – most of mild severity with only 1 diagnostic CT or MRI and none undergoing invasive testing such as biopsy. Incidental findings on follow-up imaging were found in 40 (6.5%) patients —23 of low clinical importance and 17 medium clinical importance. Conclusions: In our cohort of patients with cirrhosis, HCC surveillance was associated with high early tumor detection and minimal physical harms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1925-1932.e1
JournalClinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Cirrhosis
  • Harms
  • Liver Cancer
  • Screening
  • Surveillance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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