• α-fetoprotein;
  • hepatitis B;
  • surveillance;
  • ultrasound


Background: The survival benefit of surveillance for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is controversial.

Aim: We aimed to examine the survival benefit of HCC surveillance in chronic viral hepatitis.

Methods: Survivals of HCC patients related to chronic viral hepatitis from the Hepatology Clinic (surveillance group) were compared with those referred from other hospitals/clinics (no-surveillance group). Lead-time and length-time biases were adjusted based on tumour volume doubling times.

Results: Among 579 patients (91% hepatitis B), 472 (82%) patients had HCC and 79 (17%) of these patients were referred from the surveillance programme. HCC was smaller (4.2 vs. 7.7 cm; P<0.001) and fewer in numbers (2.6 vs. 3.8, P=0.03) in the surveillance group vs. the no-surveillance group. Treatment by surgery (20 vs. 10%, P=0.007) and local ablative therapy (46 vs. 19%, P<0.001) were more frequent in the surveillance group than that in the no-surveillance group. The median survival of the surveillance group (88 weeks) was significantly longer than that of the no-surveillance group (26 weeks) (P<0.001). The adjusted cumulative survival at 2 years was significantly longer in the surveillance group if the tumour volume doubling time was <90 days (P=0.0352).

Conclusions: HCC surveillance can improve the survival of patients with chronic viral hepatitis B.