Hepatocellular carcinoma, HCC, is one of the most prevalent human cancers and the third deadliest with more than 700 000 deaths per year. Currently, only 10 % of all HCC cases are diagnosed at an early stage, which directly correlates to a median survival rate of merely 6-20 months following diagnosis.

The risk of developing HCC is increased in patients with underlying liver disease such as hepatitis, fibrosis and cirrhosis. In addition, HCC is increasing in many countries due to obesity related diseases such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) and the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) recommend surveillance of patients with a high risk of developing HCC; such as patients with cirrhosis and hepatitis infection. Surveillance is today mainly performed by ultrasound every 6 months and with the elevated alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) test.

Early diagnosis is critical for successful treatment. Today, only 10 % of HCC patients are diagnosed at an early stage. Hence, there is an unmet need for diagnostic markers enabling early detection.