AGA Clinical Practice Update on Surveillance for Hepatobiliary Cancers in Patients With Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis: Expert Review

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2019 Nov;17(12):2416-2422. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2019.07.011. Epub 2019 Jul 12.


Description: The purpose of this clinical practice update is to define key principles in the surveillance of hepatobiliary cancers including cholangiocarcinoma, gallbladder adenocarcinoma, and hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC).

Methods: The recommendations outlined in this expert review are based on available published evidence including observational studies and systematic reviews, and incorporates expert opinion where applicable. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 1: Surveillance for cholangiocarcinoma and gallbladder cancer should be considered in all adult patients with PSC regardless of disease stage, especially in the first year after diagnosis and in patients with ulcerative colitis and those diagnosed at an older age. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 2: Surveillance for cholangiocarcinoma and gallbladder cancer should include imaging by ultrasound, computed tomography, or magnetic resonance imaging, with or without serum carbohydrate antigen 19-9, every 6 to 12 months BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 3: Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography with brush cytology should not be used routinely for surveillance of cholangiocarcinomas in PSC. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 4: Cholangiocarcinomas should be investigated by endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography with brush cytology with or without fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis and/or cholangioscopy in PSC patients with worsening clinical symptoms, worsening cholestasis, or a dominant stricture. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 5: Fine-needle aspiration of perihilar biliary strictures should be used with caution in PSC patients considered to be liver transplant candidates because of concerns for tumor seeding if the lesion is a cholangiocarcinoma. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 6: Surveillance for cholangiocarcinoma should not be performed in PSC patients with small-duct PSCs or those younger than age 20. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 7: The decision to perform a cholecystectomy in PSC patients with a gallbladder polyp should be based on the size and growth of the polyp, as well as the clinical status of the patient, with the knowledge of the increased risk of gallbladder cancer in polyps greater than 8 mm. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 8: Surveillance for hepatocellular carcinoma in PSC patients with cirrhosis should include ultrasound, computed tomography, or magnetic resonance imaging, with or without α-fetoprotein every 6 months.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Tumor-Associated, Carbohydrate / analysis
  • Bile Duct Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Biopsy / methods
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / diagnosis
  • Cholangiocarcinoma / diagnosis
  • Cholangitis, Sclerosing / complications*
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Early Detection of Cancer*
  • Gallbladder Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Transplant Recipients


  • Antigens, Tumor-Associated, Carbohydrate
  • carbohydrate antigen 199, human