Nasopharyngeal carcinoma                    Orient Journal of Medicine                      Vol 23 [1-4] Jan-Dec, 2011

Is liver function test of any diagnostic relevance in patients presenting with hepatocellular carcinoma?
Uchenna C Okonkwo1
Monica N Nwosu1
Okwudili J Nnadozie2
Virginus V Mamah2
Chioma W Nsoedo2

1Department of Medicine
Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital
PMB 5025 Nnewi
Anambra State, Nigeria
2Department of Chemical Pathology
Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital
PMB 5025 Nnewi
Anambra State, Nigeria

Author for Correspondence
Dr. Uchenna C Okonkwo
Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital
P.M.B. 5025 Nnewi
Anambra State, Nigeria
Mobile: +234-803-3251240


Received: March 30th, 2011
Accepted for Publication:
October 31st, 2011

Background: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a tumor with very poor prognosis in Nigeria because of late diagnosis. This underscores the need for cheap and available investigations to aid early diagnosis. Liver function test (LFT) is affordable, available and minimally invasive. The recognition of specific fluctuations in liver function test in HCC will facilitate pragmatic clinical, radiological and histopathological evaluation in individuals at risk.

Aim / Objective: To determine if specific fluctuations in LFT is suggestive of HCC in patients presenting with this tumor at a tertiary health center in South-East Nigeria.

Methods: This was a case-control study. Sera from 64 patients with HCC and 120 patients without HCC were analyzed for bilirubin, alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and albumin.

Results: A total of 184 patients were studied. Among the patients with HCC, AST and ALT were elevated in 30(46.9%) and 31(48.4%) patients, respectively, while ALP was elevated in 33(52%). Hyperbilirubinaemia was present in 34(53%) and hypoalbuminaemia in 54(84.3%) of the patients. Except for bilirubin, LFT was more frequently abnormal in HCC than in non-HCC cases. However, the difference was not statistically significant between HCC and liver cirrhosis (p >0.05).

Conclusion: No specific pattern of LFT is diagnostic of HCC. Abnormal LFT in a high risk patient should prompt urgent imaging and histopathological evaluation.

Keywords: Hepatocellular carcinoma, Liver function test
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