Source Gleneagles Hospital, 6A Napier Road, Singapore 258500.
Hepatocellular carcinoma is one of the most serious complications of chronic liver disease and is the third most lethal cancer worldwide. Symptoms emerge very late in the course of its natural history with an attendant poor outcome. Screening is of paramount importance in a successful strategy to treat hepatocellular carcinoma. A successful screening program rests the availability of an at-risk population, reliable diagnostics tests that are able to diagnose a condition at a stage where effective, and relatively simple and acceptable treatments are available. In hepatocellular carcinoma, all patients with liver cirrhosis or chronic hepatitis B virus infection are at risk. Six monthly ultrasound and alpha-foetoprotein determination form the backbone of the screening program. Newer modalities and tests show promise but have not supplanted the standard tests.