Tumor markers are more useful in patients undergoing surveillance for hepatocellular carcinoma with unreliable results by ultrasonography

Shintaro Mikami, Ryosuke Tateishi, Shu Hagiwara, Masaya Sato, Tatsuya Minami, Koji Uchino, Kenichiro Enooku, Takahisa Sato, Hayato Nakagawa, Ryota Masuzaki, Yoshinari Asaoka, Yuji Kondo, Shuichiro Shiina, Hitoshi Ikeda, Masao Omata, Haruhiko Yoshida, Kazuhiko Koike

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: The objectives of this study was to evaluate the utility of tumor markers in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) surveillance based on the reliability of ultrasonography. Methods: We analyzed 313 patients with HCC detected through a surveillance program using ultrasonography combined with three tumor markers from February 2000 to December 2010. The patients were categorized into two groups based on the triggering event: the US group (n=281) in which a tumor was first detected using ultrasonography and the TM group (n=32) in which elevated tumor markers led to the diagnosis of a tumor that was undetected using ultrasonography. The reliability of ultrasonography was scored on a 4-point scale based on three items (coarseness of liver parenchyma, patient obesity and liver atrophy). Additionally, patient survival was assessed using the Kaplan-Meier method and log-rank test. Results: The median tumor size was 20mm (interquartile range, 15-24). The reliability of ultrasonography was evaluated as good in 208 (66.5%), satisfactory in 80 (8.0%), poor in 21 (6.7%) and unsatisfactory in four (1.2%) patients. The proportion of patients in the TM group increased significantly according to the score, from 7.2% to 25.0% (P=0.01). The survival rates of patients at 3 and 5years were 83.7% and 57.2% in the US group, and 79.3% and 59.4% in the TM group, respectively (P=0.98). Conclusion: Tumor markers may play a diagnostic role in patients with unreliable ultrasonography results. The survival of patients diagnosed by elevated tumor markers was not significantly different from those diagnosed by ultrasonography.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-422
Number of pages8
JournalHepatology Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Surveillance
  • Tumor marker
  • Ultrasonography


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