Early diagnosis of liver cancer: an appraisal of international recommendations and future perspectives

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All Societies, AASLD, EASL, APASL and JSH, identify patients with cirrhosis as a target population for surveillance, with minor differences for additional categories of patients, such as chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C patients with advanced fibrosis. According to AASLD, liver disease related to metabolic diseases including diabetes and obesity is a recognized target of screening, since those conditions have been causally related to HCC. All societies endorse radiological non-invasive techniques as the mainstay for early diagnosis of HCC, but discrepancies exist between Societies on the utilization of contrast-enhanced ultrasound and utilization of serum markers for surveillance and diagnosis of HCC. The diagnostic algorithm of the international societies differ substantially in the anatomic paradigm of EASL and APASL which identify 1 cm size as the starting point for radiological diagnosis of HCC compared to APASL algorithm based on the dynamic pattern of contrast imaging, independently on tumour size. While strengthening prediction in individual patients is expected to improve cost-effectiveness ratios of screening, the benefits of pre-treatment patient stratification by clinical, histological and genetic scores remain uncertain and exclusion of patients with severe co-morbidities and advanced age is still debated.

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