GlycoCirrho test predicts liver cancer

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Researchers at the UZ Ghent have discovered that the GlycoCirrhoTest for the early detection of cirrhosis also accurately predicts the risk for the development of liver cancer. Their results are presented this week at United European Gastroenterology, the most important conference in the field. Cirrhosis is a severe and chronic inflammation of the liver and is mostly caused by alcohol abuse or infection with the Hepatitis B or C virus. Cirrhosis is also an important risk factor for the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of liver cancer. One in three cirrhosis patients eventually develop HCC. In 2004, the research groups of Nico Callewaert and Hans Van Vlierberghe from the VIB and UZ Ghent developed a test for the early detection of cirrhosis. The so-called GlycoCirrhoTest does this by analyzing the glycosylation of blood serum proteins. The researchers now discovered that the test is also predictive for HCC. The GlycoCirrhoTest was used in 132 cirrhosis patients who were monitored for four years. Patients who developed HCC within these four years showed significantly higher values for the test. In this way, patients can be divided in high and low risk groups for HCC and personalized follow-up can be implemented. Early detection of liver cancer drastically improves prognosis of patients.