Objective: Surveillance of cirrhotic patients enables early detection of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and possibly prolongs survival. The aim of this study was to explore whether early-stage HCC can be detected earlier at a specialized department of liver disease than in other institutions.
Methods: The study subjects were 574 patients with HCC. Patients were subdivided into 3 groups according to the manner of HCC detection: group A, HCC was detected in 91 patients during periodic examination at Kurume University School of Medicine; group B, HCC was detected in 301 patients during periodic examination at other institutions; group C, HCC was detected incidentally or because of symptoms in 182 patients.
Results: The HCC detected in group A was significantly of smaller size (20.4 mm) compared with groups B (27.1 mm, P<0.0001) and C (57.8 mm, P<0.0001). The frequency of receiving treatment (surgery or local ablation therapy) was significantly higher in group A (73%) than in groups B (52%, P=0.002) and C (26%, P<0.0001). The 5-year survival rates were 52% for group A, 40% for group B, and 23% for group C, respectively. The survival of group A was significantly better than that of groups B (P=0.0157) and C (P<0.0001).
Conclusions: Surveillance for HCC at specialized Department of Liver Disease can detect early-stage HCC, resulting in a higher chance of receiving promising treatment.