HCC is the fifth most common malignant tumor worldwide with 500,000 – 1,000,000 new cases per year and the third most common cause of cancer-related death (> 500,000 deaths/year).  It even ranks as the most common malignant tumor in some parts of Southeast Asia and Africa:  35 to 150 out of 100,000 people there suffer from this type of cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer is increasing markedly in some European countries as well as in the USA:  the number of newly diagnosed cases has doubled in both men and women over the last 30 years. This increase is linked to a growing number of patients with liver cirrhosis as well as to the high hepatitis C infection rates in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Men develop liver cancer two to three times more often than women.

Approximately 7 out of 10 hepatocellular carcinomas are not detected until they have reached advanced stages.  The chance of cure is limited in these cases. Nowadays, ultrasound screening is performed every 6 months in high-risk patients, particularly those with liver cirrhosis. If liver cancer develops, it will thus be detected at an early and treatable stage.  Liver cancer screening is increasing the proportion of early-stage cases and correspondingly reducing that of late-stage cases.  On the other hand, determination of the tumor marker AFP (alpha1-fetoprotein) alone has not been proven to confer a significant survival advantage.


Center of Interventional Hepatobiliary Medicine
Prof. Dr. med. Hans Scherübl
Vivantes Klinikum Am Urban
Academic Teaching Hospital of Charité, Berlin

Dieffenbachstraße 1
10967 Berlin
Tel: + 49 30 130 225201
Fax: + 49 30 130 225205
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