Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) surveillance is underutilized, with <25% of individuals with cirrhosis receiving surveillance exams as recommended. The epidemiology of cirrhosis and HCC in the United States has also shifted in recent years, but little is known about recent trends in surveillance utilization. We characterized patterns of HCC surveillance by payer, cirrhosis etiology, and calendar year in insured individuals with cirrhosis.
We conducted a retrospective cohort study of individuals with cirrhosis using claims data from Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance plans in North Carolina. We included individuals ≥ 18 years with a first occurrence of an ICD-9/10 code for cirrhosis between January 1, 2010, and June 30, 2018. The outcome was HCC surveillance by abdominal ultrasound, CT, or MRI. We estimated 1- and 2-year cumulative incidences for HCC surveillance and assessed longitudinal adherence to surveillance by computing the proportion of time covered (PTC).
Among 46,052 individuals, 71% were enrolled through Medicare, 15% through Medicaid, and 14% through private insurance. The overall 1-year cumulative incidence of HCC surveillance was 49% and the 2-year cumulative incidence was 55%. For those with an initial screen in the first 6 months of their cirrhosis diagnosis, the median 2-year PTC was 67% (Q1, 38%; Q3, 100%).
HCC surveillance initiation after cirrhosis diagnosis remains low, though it has improved slightly over time, particularly among individuals with Medicaid.
This study provides insight into recent trends in HCC surveillance and highlights areas to target for future interventions, particularly among patients with nonviral etiologies.