The most common causes are permanent damage to liver tissues through chronic hepatitis C or B virus infection or long-term excessive alcohol consumption.  A low-fat balanced diet with only light to moderate alcohol consumption is recommended to minimize strain on the liver.  Particularly important are plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to cover your vitamin needs as well as cereals and wholegrain foods, which contain ample roughage.  Overweight and what is called “affluenza” should be avoided.

Regular physical activity (at least 30 minutes a day) helps prevent cardiovascular diseases and reduce the risk of cancer.

Children should be routinely vaccinated against hepatitis B infection. This vaccination provides very effective protection against liver cancer caused by hepatitis B and is also recommended for adults with chronic liver disease (other causes).
Long-lasting protection is provided by universal hepatitis B vaccination, particularly in the endemic regions of Africa and Asia.  In the next few decades, the vaccination will dramatically reduce the incidence of chronic liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma worldwide.

People with cirrhosis or chronic hepatitis B virus infection are advised to have an ultrasound scan of the liver (every 6 months) for early detection of liver cancer.  Ultrasound screening is very effective; in South Korea, for example, more than 50% of all liver cancers are detected at symptom-free early and thus highly treatable (curable) stages.  AFP determination alone, on the other hand, is not suitable for early detection of liver cancer.

Fig. 2:  Early hepatocellular cancer: HCC detection by ultrasound scan of the liver in persons at risk. After injection of contrast medium several small HCCs (red arrows) show up in the liver.

Early hepatocellular cancer


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
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.