Last updated on February 2018

Annual MRI Versus Biannual US for Surveillance of Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Liver Cirrhosis


Brief description of study

The investigators will investigate the usefulness of biannual ultrasonography versus annual non-contrast magnetic resonance imaging for surveillance of hepatocellular carcinoma in single arm patients.

Detailed Study Description

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the major complications in patients with chronic liver disease. The prognosis of HCC relies on the extent of disease at the time of diagnosis. Hence to detect cancer at an earlier stage, a regular surveillance test is important for the subjects with a high risk of developing cancer. Current guidelines recommend a regular surveillance using ultrasonography (US) at a 6 month-interval. Ultrasonography is a non-invasive and safe procedure, yet it is limited by the skills of the operator and it is often difficult to differentiate cancer from regenerating nodules especially in atrophied cirrhotic liver. According to a recent meta-analysis, the overall sensitivity and specificity of detecting liver cancer using ultrasonography were both over 90%, however the sensitivity was decreased to 60% in detecting early lesions in which surgery or liver transplantation is indicated. Of note, addition of alpha feto protein(AFP) to ultrasonography also failed to increase the sensitivity in detecting small cancers. Taken together, there is a need to develop a new surveillance test with an improved sensitivity and specificity.

Recently, a retrospective study reported that CT or MRI showed a better sensitivity than ultrasonography in detecting early liver cancer. However, performing CT as a surveillance test is limited by frequent exposure to radiation and contrast-dye agent. Although MRI does not have the risk of radiation-exposure, it is limited by the high cost and limited availability. On the contrast, non-contrast MRI offers a cost that is comparable to US and an absence of exposure to radiation or contrast-dye agent, which suggests non-contrast MRI as a good alternative surveillance tool for early detection of HCC. Therefore, in this prospective trial, the investigators will investigate the usefulness of biannual ultrasonography versus annual non-contrast magnetic resonance imaging for surveillance of hepatocellular carcinoma.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT02551250

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