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Liver Cancer Screening Exams

At this time, liver cancer screening is recommended only for adults at increased risk. That’s because they have a higher chance of getting the disease.

Being at increased risk doesn’t mean you’ll definitely get liver cancer. But, you may need to start regular screening exams. So if you do get cancer, your doctor finds it at its earliest stage. When found early, the chances for successfully treating the disease are greatest.

Along with regular exams, practice awareness. This means you should be familiar with your body. That way you’ll notice changes, like jaundice or weight loss. Then, report them to your doctor without delay.

Conditions that increase your risk

You’re at increased risk if you have chronic hepatitis B infection or cirrhosis of the liver. Below are medical conditions that may eventually increase your risks for cirrhosis of the liver.

  • Chronic hepatitis C infection
  • Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC)
  • Inherited metabolic disease, including:
    • Hemochromatosis
    • Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
    • Glycogen storage disease
    • Prophyria cutanea tarda
    • Tryosinemia
  • Autoimmune hepatitis
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

If you have any of these conditions, speak with your doctor. He or she can decide if you need certain exams to evaluate your liver cancer risks.

Exams for adults at increased risk

Age 21 to 75

  • Liver ultrasound every 6 months
  • Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) blood test every 6 months

Check with your insurance provider before scheduling an exam. Not all insurance providers cover the cost of these exams.

Still unsure if liver cancer screening is right for you? Print and share MD Anderson’s liver cancer screening chart with your doctor.

The screening plans on this page apply to adults expected to live for at least 10 years. They’re not for adults who have a health condition that may make it hard to diagnose or treat liver cancer. Your doctor can help you decide if you should continue screening after age 75.

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MD Anderson Resources

For Physicians

Use our flowchart to determine cancer screening recommendations for patients. 

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© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center