Surveillance of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is important for early detection. Imaging tests including computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasonography with or without various kinds of contrast medium are important options for detecting HCC. In addition to the imaging tests, various kinds of biomarkers including alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), lectin-bound AFP (AFP-L3) and protein induced by vitamin K absence or antagonist II (PIVKA-II) have been widely used to detect HCC and analyze treatment response. Recently, various kinds of novel biomarkers (proteins and miRNA) have been found to predict the malignancy potential of HCC and treatment response to specific therapies. Moreover, various combinations of well-established biomarkers and novel biomarkers have been tested to improve sensitivity and specificity. In practical terms, biomarkers that can be analyzed using peripheral blood samples might be more useful than immunohistochemical techniques. It has been reported that quantification of cytokines in peripheral blood and the analysis of peripheral immune subsets could be good biomarkers for managing HCC. Here, we describe the usefulness of and update well-established and novel biomarkers for the management of HCC.
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