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A national survey of the provision of ultrasound surveillance for the detection of hepatocellular carcinoma


Objective Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the sixth most common cancer worldwide and third most common cause of cancer related death, is closely associated with the presence of cirrhosis. Survival is determined by the stage of the cancer, with asymptomatic small tumours being more amenable to treatment. Early diagnosis is dependent on regular surveillance and the primary objective of this survey was to gain a better understanding of the baseline attitudes towards and provision of ultrasound surveillance (USS) HCC surveillance in the UK. In addition, information was obtained on the stages of cancer of the patients being referred to and discussed at regional multidisciplinary team meetings.

Design UK hepatologists, gastroenterologists and nurse specialists were sent a questionnaire survey regarding the provision of USS for detection of HCC in their respective hospitals.

Results Provision of surveillance was poor overall, with many hospitals lacking the necessary mechanisms to make abnormal results, if detected, known to referring clinicians. There was also a lack of standard data collection and in many hospitals basic information on the number of patients with cirrhosis and how many were developing HCC was not known. For the majority of new HCC cases was currently being made only at an incurable late stage (60%).

Conclusions In the UK, the current provision of USS based HCC surveillance is poor and needs to be upgraded urgently.


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