Patients' Resources

Whenever you think about your liver, imagine a recycling plant that functions to maintain a stable balance between getting rid of “trash” or toxins in your body and processing and storing highly essential nutrients which your body can use, including a variety of important proteins.

Without a doubt, the liver is one of the busiest and most essential organs of your body. Unfortunately, the cells in the liver are also susceptible to undergo changes. Cancerous liver cells, known as hepatocellular carcinoma, form liver cancer.

According to the National Cancer Centre Singapore, liver cancer is the 6th most common cancer in the world and it is the 4th most common cancer among men in Singapore. It affects about 22 individuals in every 100,000 people a year. If left untreated, most patients do not live beyond six months.

How do you know when you may need to go for liver cancer screening? How is liver cancer screening in Singapore carried out?

3 Signs You Are A Candidate For Liver Cancer Screening

It is recommended that you go for liver cancer screening if you have one or more of these risk factors:

A. Hepatitis B carriers. The risk of a Hepatitis B or C carrier to develop liver cancer is 100 times higher than those who do not have Hepatitis B or C. Hepatitis B immunizations are available in many countries. The first dose of hepatitis B vaccine is administered at birth.

The need for liver cancer screening in Singapore and other countries where Hepatitis B immunizations have been administered has significantly dropped even as Hepatitis B cases have also dropped.

B. Infection With Hepatitis C. This is a viral form of hepatitis that is transmitted through bodily fluids such as saliva, semen and other secretions.

C. Alcoholism. Drinking too much alcohol causes severe damage to the liver known as cirrhosis. It is recommended for you to have a liver cancer screening done if you suspect you have liver damage due to excessive alcohol intake.

Liver Cancer Screening For High-Risk Groups

Much of liver cancer screening in Singapore and elsewhere in the world is still under investigation. However, there are methods of evaluation that are recommended to high-risk groups. These are:

  • AFP Blood Test.
    The AFP or alphafetoprotein is the protein normally produced by immature liver cells in a developing fetus. An AFP level of 10 is normal; however, in up to 30% of patients with liver cancer, the AFP level can be normal.
  • Imaging Tests.
    Because the AFP blood test alone may not definitively conclude you have liver cancer, liver cancer screening in Singapore may be aided by imaging tests such as ultrasound, Computed Tomography (CT) scans, and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans.

According to the Ministry of Health, these methods of liver cancer screening in Singapore may benefit the targeted groups who demonstrate high risk factors of developing liver cancer. It is recommended that these evaluations be performed at six months interval or more frequently if the risk factors are higher.

Because surgery is the only known effective method for treating liver cancer, it is important for you to see your doctor immediately for liver cancer screening if you are an established hepatitis B or C carrier or if you have liver cirrhosis.

Early detection can lead to earlier surgery and better chances of surviving this fatal disease. Talk to your doctor about liver cancer screening in Singapore today.