Effect of ultrasonography surveillance in patients with liver cancer

Liver cancer is a growing global public health problem. Ultrasonography is an imaging tool widely used for the early diagnosis of liver cancer | BMJ Open

433px-hepatocellular_carcinoma_low_mag

Image source: Nephron – Wikimedia // CC SA 3.0

Image shows low magnification micrograph of hepatocellular carcinoma the most common form of primary liver cancer.

Objective: The effect of ultrasonography surveillance (US) on the survival of patients with liver cancer is unknown. Therefore, this study examined the association between survival and US frequency during the 2 years preceding patients’ liver cancer diagnosis.

Methods: This population-based longitudinal study was conducted in Taiwan, a region with high liver cancer incidence, by using the National Health Insurance Research Database. We compared survival between patients who received US three times or more (≥3 group) and less than three times (<3 group) during the 2 years preceding their liver cancer diagnosis, and identified the predictors for the ≥3 group.

Results: This study enrolled 4621 patients with liver cancer who had died between 1997 and 2010. The median survival rate was higher in the ≥3 group (1.42 years) than in the <3 group (0.51 years). Five-year survival probability was also significantly higher in the ≥3 group (14.4%) than in the <3 group (7.7%). The multivariate logistic regression results showed that the three most common positive predictors for receiving three or more US sessions were indications of viral hepatitis, gallbladder diseases and kidney–urinary–bladder diseases; the most common negative predictors for receiving three or more US sessions were male sex and indications of abdominal pain.

Conclusion: Patients with liver cancer who received US three times or more during the 2 years preceding their liver cancer diagnosis exhibited a higher 5-year survival probability.

Full reference: Chiang, J. et al. (2017) Effect of ultrasonography surveillance in patients with liver cancer: a population-based longitudinal study. BMJ Open. 7:e015936

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