Surveillance improves survival of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma: a prospective population-based study

Thai P. Hong, Paul J. Gow, Michael Fink, Anouk Dev, Stuart K. Roberts, Amanda Nicoll, John S. Lubel, Ian Kronborg, Niranjan Arachchi, Marno Ryan, William W. Kemp, Virginia Knight, Vijaya Sundararajan, Paul Desmond, Alexander Jv Thompson, Sally J. Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVES: To determine the factors associated with survival of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and the effect of HCC surveillance on survival.

DESIGN, SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Prospective population-based cohort study of patients newly diagnosed with HCC in seven tertiary hospitals in Melbourne, 1 July 2012 - 30 June 2013.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Overall survival (maximum follow-up, 24 months); factors associated with HCC surveillance participation and survival.

RESULTS: 272 people were diagnosed with incident HCC during the study period; the most common risk factors were hepatitis C virus infection (41%), alcohol-related liver disease (39%), and hepatitis B virus infection (22%). Only 40% of patients participated in HCC surveillance at the time of diagnosis; participation was significantly higher among patients with smaller median tumour size (participants, 2.8 cm; non-participants, 6.0 cm; P < 0.001) and earlier Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC) stage disease (A/B, 59%; C/D, 25%; P < 0.001). Participation was higher among patients with compensated cirrhosis or hepatitis C infections; it was lower among those with alcohol-related liver disease or decompensated liver disease. Median overall survival time was 20.8 months; mean survival time was 18.1 months (95% CI, 16.6-19.6 months). Participation in HCC surveillance was associated with significantly lower mortality (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 0.60; 95% CI, 0.38-0.93; P = 0.021), as were curative therapies (aHR, 0.33; 95% CI, 0.19-0.58). Conversely, higher Child-Pugh class, alpha-fetoprotein levels over 400 kU/L, and later BCLC disease stages were each associated with higher mortality.

CONCLUSIONS: Survival for patients with HCC is poor, but may be improved by surveillance, associated with the identification of earlier stage tumours, enabling curative therapies to be initiated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-354
Number of pages7
JournalThe Medical Journal of Australia
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Liver diseases, alcoholic
  • Liver neoplasms
  • Neoplasms, epidemiology
  • Preventive medicine
  • Survival analysis

Cite this