Early Detection Research Network


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common solid malignancies worldwide, and its incidence in the United States is increasing. Despite advances in medical technology, the 5-year survival of patients with HCC improved minimally from 2% to 5% between 1981 and 1998. Since 90% of patients with HCC have underlying cirrhosis, patients with cirrhosis are candidates for HCC surveillance. The currently recommended surveillance tests for HCC are ultrasound evaluation of the liver (US), with or without measurement of serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP). These tests are inadequately sensitive for use in screening, while ultrasound is also limited by the experience of the operator and on body habitus for adequate scanning. The performance of DCP to distinguish HCC from cirrhosis was compared to that of AFP or the lens culinaris agglutinin-reactive AFP (AFP-L3) and was shown to be superior, at a sensitivity of 92% and a specificity of 93%.
The FDA has approved the use of DCP in a test designed to assess the risk of developing hepatocellular cancer (HCC) in patients with chronic liver disease. The test measures serum DCP levels, which can be used in conjunction with other clinical findings and imaging studies, to differentiate early HCC from cirrhosis.

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