Prevention of hepatobiliary cancers

Hepatobiliary cancers represent a significant problem around the globe. The most common hepatobiliary cancers are: liver cancer, cholangiocarcinoma and gallbladder cancer. In ESCALON, we aim to better understand how these tumors behave and to find ways to diagnose them early on. Through application of new technologies we will attempt to understand if hepatobiliary cancers can be predicted and diagnosed early through blood markers.


ESCALON aims to better understand how hepatobiliary tumors behave and to find ways to diagnose them early on. The project attempts to understand if hepatobiliary cancers can be predicted and diagnosed early through blood markers.

The challenge

Hepatobiliary tumors are difficult to predict and diagnose with the current standard methods. For example, liver cancer requires abdominal ultrasonography every 6 months in those at risk in order to “screen” for the tumor, so to find it at early stages. There is no accepted screening method for cholangiocarcinoma or gallbladder cancer. Moreover, diagnosis of these tumors usually requires invasive methods and complex imaging technology that is not readily available in many areas. In Latin America, these problems are exacerbated by a number of factors such as higher risk for these tumors and difficult access to specialized centers for some patients, among others.


Below an overview of all news and events related to ESCALON.

10 Feb 2020

First Newsletter

We have sent our first newsletter to all who were interested in ESCALON and its activities.

Read more
03 Feb 2020


The 1st ESCALON Symposium was held in Cordoba, Argentina on November 15, 2019.

Read more
10 Feb 2020

Liver Cancer Summit

The next event that we will be attending is the Liver Cancer Summit- 6 to 8 February 2020 in Prague.

Read more
03 Feb 2020

ESCALON kick-off meeting

The ESCALON in person Kick-off meeting was performed on April 9th , 2019 in Vienna.

Read more


The consortium is formed by physicians, scientists, epidemiologists, statisticians and media specialists in multiple countries across Europe and South America. Each task, designed to work on a different hepatobiliary cancer, is led by a center in one continent in close collaboration with a center in a different continent (Europe and South America).

José Debes
Gastroenterologist and tumor biologist
André Boonstra
Immunology of infectious diseases and cancer
Angela Bastidas Coral
Cell biology
Jesus Banales
Molecular biology expert
Bettina Hansen
Marco Arresse
Gastroenterologist and hepatologist
Domingo Balderramo
Pablo Romagnoli
Immunology expert
Angela Lamarca
Arndt Vogel
Jhon Prieto Ortiz
Enrique Carrera Estupiñán
Gastroenterologist and hepatologist
Ângelo Zambam de Mattos
Gastroenterologist and hepatologist
Jesse van der Mark
Science communication expert


Here you can find all publications related to ESCALON.

Hepatocellular carcinoma, a unique tumor with a lack of biomarkers

Debes JD, Carrera E, Mattos AZ, Prieto JE, Boonstra A; ESCALON investigators. Ann Hepatol. 2019; pii: S1665-2681(19)32214-8. doi: 10.1016/ j.aohep.2019.07.009 PMID: 31494068.

Donwload PDF

Hepatobiliary cancers in South America: disparity strikes

Debes JD, Boonstra A, Balderramo D, Mattos AZ, Arrese M; ESCALON investigators. Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2019; 4:581. doi: 10.1016/S2468-1253(19)30188-8 PMID: 31292069.

Donwload PDF

Sorafenib for Treatment of Hepatocellular Carcinoma: A Survival Analysis From the South American Liver Research Network

S Leathers J, Balderramo D, Prieto J, Diehl F, Gonzalez-Ballerga E, Ferreiro MR, Carrera E, Barreyro F, Diaz-Ferrer J, Singh D, Mattos AZ, Carrilho F, Debes JD J Clin Gastroenterol. 2019; 53:464-469. doi: 10.1097/ MCG. 0000000000001085.

Donwload PDF

Levels of cytokines in serum associate with development of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with HCV infection treated with direct-acting antivirals

Debes JD, van Tilborg M, Groothuismink ZMA, Hansen BE, Schulze Zur Wiesch J, von Felden J, de Knegt RJ, Boonstra A. Gastroenterology.2018;154:515-517.e3.doi:10.1053/ j.gastro.2017.10.035

Donwload PDF

Hepatocellular carcinoma in South America: Evaluation of risk factors, demographics and therapy

Debes JD, Chan AJ, Balderramo D, Kikuchi L, Gonzalez Ballerga E, Prieto JE, Tapias M, Idrovo V, Davalos MB, Cairo F, Barreyro FJ, Paredes S, Hernandez N, Avendaño K, Diaz Ferrer J, Yang JD, Carrera E, Garcia JA, Mattos AZ, Hirsch BS, Gonçalves PT, Carrilho FJ, Roberts LR Liver Int. 2018; 38:136-143. doi: 10.1111/liv.13502.

Donwload PDF

Image slider

  • Maria walking in Quito
  • Erasmus MC walking doctors
  • Salomon walking in Quito


Below an overview of the workpackages related to ESCALON.

Workpackage no. 1

Hepatocellular carcinoma

Workpackage no. 2


Workpackage no. 3

Gallbladder cancer

Workpackage no. 4

Dissemination of findings

Workpackage no. 5

Ethics, data and quality control

Workpackage no. 6

Management and coordination


We have formed a consortium that successfully established the epidemiology of liver cancer in South America involving multiple countries in the region. For this project we have expanded our network to other South American and European partners, incorporating area-specific experts and assembling a study team with unique characteristics in order to address the key needs related to hepatobiliary malignancies in the region.

For Patients

Relevant patient organisations

Relevant patient organisations


The European Liver Patient Association


The Liga Argentina de la Lucha contra el Cancer

Fundacion Sayani

Fundacion Sayani


You can find the relevant contact persons of this project below.


  • José Debes
  • Erasmus MC


  • André Boonstra
  • Erasmus MC

Project Manager

This project is funded by
Grant no. 825510

Share project / Contact us