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Analysis Finds Scant Evidence to Support Liver Cancer Screening in High-Risk Patients — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
June 17, 2014

Analysis Finds Scant Evidence to Support Liver Cancer Screening in High-Risk Patients

By Amy Orciari Herman

Edited by David G. Fairchild, MD, MPH, and André Sofair, MD, MPH

There's little evidence that screening high-risk adults for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) improves survival, according to an Annals of Internal Medicine article.

Researchers examined data from 22 studies that assessed the effects of screening (e.g., alpha-fetoprotein testing, ultrasound) on HCC-specific or all-cause mortality among adults with chronic liver disease (with or without cirrhosis).

Overall, they found "very-low-strength evidence from which to draw conclusions about the mortality effects" of screening. For example, only one of two randomized trials showed a mortality benefit with screening versus no screening, and it had "several serious methodological limitations that gave it a high risk of bias." In 18 observational studies, screening generally was associated with earlier-stage HCC, but again, methodological flaws precluded conclusions about any mortality benefit.

The authors, noting that several professional organizations recommend screening, write: "If screening is pursued, it will be important to implement programs in ways that minimize potential harms, especially given the limited empirical evidence of benefit."

Reader Comments (1)

Piergiorgio Brovedani

OR computation is needed for any indipendent factor!

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