Early detection of hepatocellular carcinoma: roadmap for improvement

Jonathan Melendez-Torres, Amit G. Singal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has a poor prognosis, related, in part, to frequent late-stage diagnosis. Improved implementation of effective HCC surveillance is critical to reduce HCC mortality. Areas covered: We performed a targeted literature review to identify intervention targets for improving HCC surveillance effectiveness, including enriched risk stratification tools, improved surveillance tools with higher accuracy for early HCC detection, and increasing surveillance adherence. Expert opinion: HCC surveillance has been demonstrated to be efficacious in several cohort studies but has lower surveillance effectiveness in clinical practice. HCC surveillance is currently recommended in all patients with cirrhosis, and improved risk stratification using clinical risk scores, genetic scores, and novel biomarkers are important to move from a ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy to one more aligned with values of precision medicine. Current surveillance modalities, ultrasound, and AFP, miss over one-third of HCC at an early stage and are associated with potential surveillance harms, underscoring a need for alternative surveillance strategies with higher accuracy. MRI- and biomarker-based surveillance strategies have promising early data in phase II studies but require validation in phase III cohorts before routine use in practice. Finally, surveillance is underused in clinical practice, highlighting a need for intervention strategies to increase utilization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalExpert Review of Anticancer Therapy
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Biomarkers
  • cirrhosis
  • early detection
  • Liver Cancer
  • screening
  • ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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