Cost-effectiveness of semi-annual surveillance for hepatocellular carcinoma in cirrhotic patients of the Italian Liver Cancer population

J Hepatol. 2012 May;56(5):1089-1096. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2011.11.022. Epub 2012 Jan 13.


Background & aims: It was recently shown that semi-annual surveillance for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in cirrhotic patients provides a prognostic advantage over the annual program; however, its cost-effectiveness (CE) in the general cirrhotic population still needs to be defined.

Methods: A Markov model was built to compare CE of these two strategies, considering literature results and treatment modalities of 918 cirrhotic patients from the Italian Liver Cancer (ITA.LI.CA) database.

Results: Results from the Markov model suggest that, compared to annual surveillance, semi-annual surveillance leads to a gain in quality-adjusted life expectancy, in an unselected cirrhotic population, of 1.35 quality-adjusted life-months (QALMs) over 10 years since surveillance start in compensated patients, and of 0.73 QALMs in decompensated patients. Semi-annual surveillance was more cost-effective in compensated than in decompensated cirrhosis, with an incremental CE ratio (ICER) of 1997 and 3814€/QALM, respectively. In compensated cirrhosis, semi-annual surveillance was more cost-effective than the annual program when the annual HCC incidence was ≥3.2% and the relative survival gain after cancer diagnosis was ≥20% with respect to the annual program. In decompensated cirrhosis, semi-annual surveillance was cost-effective in patients amenable to liver transplantation. In both groups, CE of semi-annual surveillance improved with the increase of annual incidence and the survival benefit obtainable with HCC treatment.

Conclusions: Both surveillance strategies for HCC in cirrhotic patients can be recommended, according to the individual risk profile for HCC occurrence and the expected survival gain obtainable after tumor diagnosis and therapy.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / epidemiology*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / mortality
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / ethnology*
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Liver Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Liver Neoplasms / mortality
  • Male
  • Markov Chains
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate