Although one of the most serious complications of cirrhosis is liver cancer, or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), an analysis of health records revealed that the 10-year incidence of HCC in UK patients with cirrhosis is four percent or lower.
Only 1.2 percent of patients with alcoholic cirrhosis and 1.1 percent of patients with cirrhosis of unknown cause will develop HCC within a decade. The highest 10-year cumulative incidence of HCC was among those with cirrhosis due to chronic viral hepatitis.
"This very low incidence of HCC occurrence in people with cirrhosis caused by alcohol or of unknown origin suggests that surveillance for HCC among these groups is likely to benefit patients little," said Prof. Joe West, lead author of the Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics study. "As surveillance incurs substantial cost, it is therefore unlikely to represent value for money for the NHS. There may well be other ways of spending this money that would benefit patients far more."