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Category: Liver Diseases
Individuals who have received unhealthy liver panel test results indicating they have alcoholic cirrhosis may have a lower risk of liver cancer than previously thought, according to a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The researchers said the findings suggest that cirrhosis patients may not need to be screened as aggressively as currently recommended.
For the study, investigators from Aarhus University Hospital in the Netherlands tracked the health of a group of nearly 8,500 patients who had been diagnosed with alcoholic cirrhosis over a five-year period. During this time, only about 1 percent of patients developed hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common form of liver cancer in cirrhosis patients.
The team wrote in their report that the findings call into question the effectiveness of current liver cancer testing recommendations for patients with alcoholic cirrhosis. Since the risk of cancer was previously assumed to be high, these patients are typically tested frequently. However, the researchers noted that this may have little effect on survival and is likely not cost effective.
Of course, cirrhosis patients typically have other health problems to worry about, so these individuals may want to continue with liver panel testing. This may help doctors determine if a patient is at risk of liver failure.
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