Japanese liver cancer detection system launched

A cutting-edge system developed in Japan to detect liver cancer is to be introduced in Thailand, where the disease is a major health problem.

Fujifilm Corp worked with the Thai Association for the Study of the Liver and the Ministry of Health on the system, which could be introduced in fiscal 2024.

The Japanese imaging and healthcare solutions company hopes the screening system could be included in Thailand’s clinical practice guidelines so that it will eventually be covered by insurance.

The project is implemented in partnership with the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

In Japan, screening for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) uses ultrasound and three tumor markers. For those at risk of contracting the disease, testing is recommended once every three months, and for those at low risk, every six months.

In Thailand, ultrasound and a single tumor marker are generally used in the detection of HCC.

The difference in the screening system has led to a large discrepancy in detection of the disease between Japan and Southeast Asia.

HCC tumors are found in early stages at sizes of about 2 centimeters or less in many cases in Japan, while for about half of liver cancer patients in Southeast Asia, tumors measure 5 cm or more when first discovered, according to the company.

Patients with early stage disease are candidates for curative therapy such as resection or radiofrequency ablation, while those with HCC tumors 3 cm or larger typically receive palliative therapy, such as transarterial chemoembolization, a said Fujifilm.

According to Masatoshi Kudo, a professor at Kindai University School of Medicine, HCC patients in Japan appear to have the best overall survival rates in the world thanks to the nationwide detection system.

Conducting a demonstration survey of HCC surveillance using three tumor markers in Thailand in fiscal year 2019, Fujifilm now aims to collect 3,000 evidence cases and analyze the data in fiscal year 2023 .

“Making Thailand a model case, we would like to extend the standard HCC surveillance system in Japan to other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations,” where the deadly cancer is also prevalent, said a Fujifilm official.Kyodo

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