Current screening guidelines for people at increased risk for liver cancer vary – some call for ultrasound imaging and others for imaging and other laboratory tests. Now, a study conducted at the University of Texas Southwestern’s Simmons Cancer Center in Dallas suggests ultrasound combined with a blood test to detect high alpha fetoprotein (AFP) levels improves early detection of liver cancer by up to 40 percent.
According to the National Cancer Institute, liver cancer rates in the United States have increased almost 3 percent in the past 10 years and are rising faster than any other type of solid-tumor cancer. Early detection is important to improve survival in patients with the disease. Risk factors for liver cancer include cirrhosis, hepatitis C infection, chronic heavy alcohol consumption, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease related to diabetes and obesity.
This latest research, an analysis of 32 previous studies, was published in Gastroenterology.