3 doctors weighed in:

Can a blood test find liver cancer? My mom gets regular liver function tests. I think because of cirrhosis, or maybe another liver problem. I’m afraid the disease will cause cancer. Will cancer show up on the blood tests?

3 doctors weighed in
Dr. Alan Wartenberg
Addiction Medicine
1 doctor agrees

In brief: Sometimes

The diagnosis of cancer is made generally initially by various kinds of imaging tests - ultrasound, radionuclide liver scans and ct or mri, usually in patients where there is already suspicion.
There is a test, called AFP (alpha fetoprotein) which is sometimes followed in patients with cirrhosis to try to detect cancer early; however, other conditions also cause it to go up. The best test=biopsy.

In brief: Sometimes

The diagnosis of cancer is made generally initially by various kinds of imaging tests - ultrasound, radionuclide liver scans and ct or mri, usually in patients where there is already suspicion.
There is a test, called AFP (alpha fetoprotein) which is sometimes followed in patients with cirrhosis to try to detect cancer early; however, other conditions also cause it to go up. The best test=biopsy.
Dr. Alan Wartenberg
Dr. Alan Wartenberg
Thank
Dr. Robert Andrews
Radiology - Interventional

In brief: Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis and certain other liver disease (such as hepatitis and hemochromatosis) are associated with liver cancer, but one does not necessarily follow the other. It is not uncommon to follow liver function tests (lfts) for these conditions, and abnormal results could potentially indicate a tumor. Again, one-does not follow the other--you can have liver cancer with normal lfts and you can have abnormal lfts without cancer. One blood test that does specifically look for liver cancer is called Alpha fetoprotein (afp).
A sudden rise in AFP would be worrisome. The risk of liver cancer goes up dramatically in people with hepatitis if they also drink alcohol. If your mother does have a risk of hepatitis and/or cirrhosis, she should not drink at all.

In brief: Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis and certain other liver disease (such as hepatitis and hemochromatosis) are associated with liver cancer, but one does not necessarily follow the other. It is not uncommon to follow liver function tests (lfts) for these conditions, and abnormal results could potentially indicate a tumor. Again, one-does not follow the other--you can have liver cancer with normal lfts and you can have abnormal lfts without cancer. One blood test that does specifically look for liver cancer is called Alpha fetoprotein (afp).
A sudden rise in AFP would be worrisome. The risk of liver cancer goes up dramatically in people with hepatitis if they also drink alcohol. If your mother does have a risk of hepatitis and/or cirrhosis, she should not drink at all.
Dr. Robert Andrews
Dr. Robert Andrews
Thank
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