Hepato-Biliary-Pancreatic Surgery Division, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.
In China, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the second most common cancer in urban areas and first most common in rural areas. It ranks as the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in males and the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in females, with the total mortality rate of 26.26 per 100,000. Currently, people with hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection are a major population at risk of developing HCC in China. In fact, there are 93 million Chinese who are HBV carriers, and about 20 million of them have chronic HBV infection. Several cohort studies have shown that screening high-risk patients with HBV-or HCV-related chronic liver disease may improve the rate of early HCC detection and the rate of curative treatment. However, a government-funded national program to screen for high-risk patients with HBV-related chronic liver disease has yet to be established in China. Although several remarkable advances in HCC management have been made during the past few decades, most patients with HCC still present with advanced-stage disease, thus reducing the chance of curative treatment. Based on firsthand experience in Japan and other countries or areas, this work examined the current status, challenges, and prospects for the future of early detection of HCC in China. Findings suggested the need for a systematic guideline for the standardized management of HCC, a government-funded nationwide screening and surveillance program for high-risk patients with HBV-related chronic liver disease, and extensive use of des-γ-carboxyprothrombin (DCP) as a screening tool in China in order to facilitate the early detection of HCC in China.