Challenges of liver cancer: Future emerging tools in imaging and urinary biomarkers

2015 World Journal of Gastroenterology 7;26 (2664-2675)

Chronic liver disease has become a global health problem as a result of the increasing incidence of viral hepatitis, obesity and alcohol misuse. Over the past three decades, in the United Kingdom alone, deaths from chronic liver disease have increased both in men and in women. Currently, 2.5% of deaths worldwide are attributed to liver disease and projected figures suggest a doubling in hospitalisation and associated mortality by 2020. Chronic liver diseases vary for clinical manifestations and natural history, with some individuals having relatively indolent disease and others with a rapidly progressive course. About 30% of patients affected by hepatitis C has a progressive disease and develop cirrhosis over a 20 years period from the infection, usually 5-10 years after initial medical presentation. The aim of the current therapeutic strategies is preventing the progression from hepatitis to fibrosis and subsequently, cirrhosis. Hepatic steatosis is a risk factor for chronic liver disease and is affecting about the half of patients who abuse alcohol. Moreover non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is part of the metabolic syndrome, associated with obesity, hypertension, type II diabetes mellitus and dyslipidaemia, and a subgroup of patients develops non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and fibrosis with subsequent cirrhosis. The strengths and pitfalls of liver biopsy are discussed and a variety of new techniques to assess liver damage from transient elastography to experimental techniques, such as in vitro urinary nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Some of the techniques and tests described are already suitable for more widespread clinical application, as is the case with ultrasound-based liver diagnostics, but others, such as urinary metabonomics, requires a period of critical evaluation or development to take them from the research arena to clinical practice.

Pubmed : 26609343