Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Pakistan: Where do We Stand?

Amna Subhan Butt, Zaigham Abbas, Wasim Jafri

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Context: From the 1970s till the mid 1990s, hepatitis B was the most common etiological factor for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in Pakistan. Afterwards, a shift in HCC etiology was observed with a steady rise in hepatitis C virus (HCV) related HCC cases. HCV-3a, which is the most prevalent genotype, is also most frequent in HCV related HCC. There was an increase in the proportion of non-B non-C (NBNC) HCC cases as well, which might be attributed to an increase in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Evidence Acquisition: The age-standardized rate for HCC is 7.64/100 000 in males and 2.8/100 000 in females. Male to female ratio is 3.6:1. Usual age of presentation is in the fifth and sixth decade. Most patients present with advanced disease, as they are not in a regular surveillance program. This is more so for patients with NBNC chronic liver dis-ease. As many sonologists in Pakistan are practicing without sufficient training to pick up early lesions, alpha-fetoprotein is still recommended to compliment ultrasound in the surveillance of HCC. Results: Majority of HCC patients present with nonresectable disease. Interventions such as transarterial chemoembolization, radiofrequency ablation, resection and chem-otherapy including sorafenib are available in selected centers. Pakistan appears to be in an area of intermediate endemicity for HCC. There is a need for population based epide-miological studies to estimate the exact disease burden. Conclusions: Measures to prevent the spread of hepatitis C and B can slow down the epidemic rise in the incidence of HCC in the coming decades. There is a need to implement a proper surveillance program to identify HCC cases at an early stage.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere6023
JournalHepatitis Monthly
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular
  • Hepatitis C
  • Pakistan


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