Hepatocellular carcinoma, HCC, is responsible for over 700 000 deaths annually. Hence it is the second leading cause, worldwide, of cancer death. The risk of developing HCC is increased in patients with underlying liver disease such as hepatitis, fibrosis and cirrhosis.
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 higher 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.