HCC Biomarkers - Patient Information


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of primary liver cancer and is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the world. Major risk factors for liver cancer include infection with HBV and/or HCV, or alcoholic liver disease. New study data suggests that nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is also a contributing risk factor. NAFLD typically results as a complication of metabolic syndrome due to obesity and diabetes.

Each year, primary liver cancer is diagnosed in more than 700,000 people worldwide, including more than 50,000 new cases in Europe.


Are you at risk of developing liver cancer?

The risk for development of liver cancer is higher for certain patient groups, especially for hepatitis B carriers, patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and patients with cirrhosis.

High-risk groups for liver cancer development are in particular:

  • Chronic hepatitis B carriers
  • Patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)
  • Patients with diagnosed liver cirrhosis of any etiology
  • Hepatitis B/C

  • Hereditary hemochromatosis

  • Alcohol-related liver injury
  • Stage 4 primary biliary cirrhosis

If you belong to any of the above mentioned risk groups, ask for referral to or enrollment into a liver cancer surveillance program without further delay.


Liver cancer surveillance

Screening tests such as ultrasonography and blood tests at regular intervals are crucial to identify liver cancer at an early stage in individuals who are at risk. This allows the application of effective curative treatments at an early stage which are associated with better long-term outcomes.


AFP-L3 and DCP blood tests

AFP-L3 and DCP tests are in vitro diagnostic blood tests for the risk assessment of developing liver cancer. Elevated values in these blood tests indicate an increased risk of liver cancer. The tests have been shown to be very effective and should be used as additional tools for liver cancer risk assessment.


GALAD score

GALAD is a statistical model for the early recognition of liver cancer. The model uses the parameters Gender, Age, AFP-L3, AFP und DCP and yields a value that represents the risk of developing liver cancer. Thus, the well-known risk factors for HCC and the three effective lab tests AFP-L3, AFP and DCP are combined in an optimal way. Recently GALAD was validated extensively in a global cohort including patient data from the UK, Germany, Japan and Hong Kong. It was shown that GALAD can detect very small tumors effectively, regardless of background diseases such as chronic viral hepatitis or alcohol-related liver damages.

The tests which determine the GALAD score can be prescribed by any physician. For this purpose, blood samples are sent to respective reference laboratories. The GALAD results are then directly transmitted to the attending physician.