Recall patterns and risk of primary liver cancer for subcentimeter ultrasound liver observations: a multicenter study
Singal AG, Ghaziani TT, Mehta N, Zhou K, Grinspan LT, Benhammou JN, Moon AM, Yang JD, Salgia R, Pillai A, Zheng E, Rich NE, Gopal P, Jalal P, Verna E, Yekkaluri S, Phen S, Melendez-Torres J, Alshuwaykh O, Choi H, Junus K, Grady J, Song M, Leven EA, Yum J, Gowda V, Alsudaney M, Hernandez P, Desai N, and Parikh ND. Recall patterns and risk of primary liver cancer for subcentimeter ultrasound liver observations: a multicenter study. Hepatol Commun 2023; 7(3).
BACKGROUND: Patients with cirrhosis and subcentimeter lesions on liver ultrasound are recommended to undergo short-interval follow-up ultrasound because of the presumed low risk of primary liver cancer (PLC).
AIMS: The aim of this study is to characterize recall patterns and risk of PLC in patients with subcentimeter liver lesions on ultrasound.
METHODS: We conducted a multicenter retrospective cohort study among patients with cirrhosis or chronic hepatitis B infection who had subcentimeter ultrasound lesions between January 2017 and December 2019. We excluded patients with a history of PLC or concomitant lesions ≥1 cm in diameter. We used Kaplan Meier and multivariable Cox regression analyses to characterize time-to-PLC and factors associated with PLC, respectively.
RESULTS: Of 746 eligible patients, most (66.0%) had a single observation, and the median diameter was 0.7 cm (interquartile range: 0.5-0.8 cm). Recall strategies varied, with only 27.8% of patients undergoing guideline-concordant ultrasound within 3-6 months. Over a median follow-up of 26 months, 42 patients developed PLC (39 HCC and 3 cholangiocarcinoma), yielding an incidence of 25.7 cases (95% CI, 6.2-47.0) per 1000 person-years, with 3.9% and 6.7% developing PLC at 2 and 3 years, respectively. Factors associated with time-to-PLC were baseline alpha-fetoprotein >10 ng/mL (HR: 4.01, 95% CI, 1.85-8.71), platelet count ≤150 (HR: 4.90, 95% CI, 1.95-12.28), and Child-Pugh B cirrhosis (vs. Child-Pugh A: HR: 2.54, 95% CI, 1.27-5.08).
CONCLUSIONS: Recall patterns for patients with subcentimeter liver lesions on ultrasound varied widely. The low risk of PLC in these patients supports short-interval ultrasound in 3-6 months, although diagnostic CT/MRI may be warranted for high-risk subgroups such as those with elevated alpha-fetoprotein levels.
Medical Subject Headings
Humans; alpha-Fetoproteins; Carcinoma, Hepatocellular; Retrospective Studies; Liver Neoplasms; Liver Cirrhosis; Bile Duct Neoplasms; Bile Ducts, Intrahepatic