Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) continues to have a dismal prognosis, with 5-year survival below 20%. This poor prognosis can be in part attributed to failures along the cancer screening process continuum such as underuse of screening in at risk patients and appropriate treatments for patients with HCC. Better understanding these process failures, and how they compare to those seen in other cancer types, can help inform potential intervention targets and strategies to reduce HCC-related mortality. Herein, we outline a conceptual model with several discrete steps in the HCC screening process continuum including risk assessment, screening initiation, follow-up of screening results, diagnostic evaluation, and treatment evaluation. The conceptual model illustrates how each step in the screening process is prone to delays or failure, resulting in worse outcomes such as late stage diagnosis or poor survival, and how factors at the patient, provider, and health care system levels can contribute to these failures. We compare cancer screening processes for HCC with those employed in breast and colorectal cancer screening to identify opportunities for improvement. The Translational Liver Cancer consortium was recently established by the National Cancer Institute with the goal of improving early detection of HCC. Studies designed to address failures in the HCC screening process continuum will help accomplish this goal.