Posted on March 8th, 2009 by
Researchers in Hong Kong have reported that screening patients with chronic hepatitis for liver cancer improves liver cancer survival rates and may improve chances for cure. The details of the study were published in the Annals for Surgery.
Liver cancer begins in the cells of the liver. Although many forms of cancer are declining in the United States, liver cancer rates are rising, primarily due to the large number of individuals diagnosed with hepatitis C (an infection of the liver that can lead to liver cancer). Unfortunately, liver cancer is rarely discovered early and often is difficult to treat with current treatment options, making the prognosis poor. In most cases treatment is designed to minimize the symptoms associated with liver cancer.
The current study evaluated the impact of screening for liver cancer among 1,366 patients diagnosed with hepatitis B or C. These patients were divided into two groups based on how they were diagnosed with liver cancer: those diagnosed through screening and those diagnosed with they developed symptoms. Survival rates between the two groups were compared. Further comparison evaluated the management and survival of these patients during two seven-year periods: 1991–1997and 1998–2004).
Researchers concluded that patients with hepatitis B or C who are diagnosed with liver cancer through screening methods have improved liver cancer survival rates and a better chance of a cure than those diagnosed as a result of symptoms.
Individuals with a hepatitis B or C infection may wish to consult their doctor about screening for liver cancer as early detection appears to improve outcomes.
Reference:Chan, Albert C.,Poon, R.,Ng KKC, et al.Changing paradigm in the management of hepatocellular carcinoma improves the survival benefit of early detection by screening. Annals of Surgery. 2008; 247:666-673.
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