Hepatocellular cancer (HCC) is a frequent cause of cancer death worldwide. Although successful screening programs exist in Asian countries, the role for screening in the United States is not clear. The purpose of this study is to determine if screening has an effect on survival in a predominantly Asian population in Hawaii. We retrospectively reviewed cases of HCC from 1993 to 1998 for demographic data, risk factors, symptoms, stage, treatment, and survival. Patients were divided into 3 groups according to presentation: symptomatic (S), asymptomatic (A), and asymptomatic but screened for disease (A/Sc). Kaplan-Meier analysis was performed on overall survival by group. Ninety-one patients were referred for HCC. There were 56 patients in group S, 19 patients in group A, and 16 patients in group A/Sc. Patients in group A/Sc survived significantly longer than those in group S (P= .009), with the former group having a median survival of 1,399 versus 234 days for group S. Median survival for group A was 545 days and did not differ significantly from the other groups. Patients who are asymptomatic and screened for HCC have an increased survival compared with those patients who present with symptoms. This may justify the use of a formal screening program for HCC in Hawaii, but we would need to investigate this prospectively.