Analysis of factors affecting the appearance of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with chronic hepatitis C. A long term follow-up study after histologic diagnosis

Y Aizawa, Y Shibamoto, I Takagi, M Zeniya, G Toda
Cancer 2000 July 1, 89 (1): 53-9

BACKGROUND: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) occurs more frequently in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related chronic liver disease than those with hepatitis B virus-related disease. It is important to assess the factors affecting the development of HCC.

METHODS: A long term follow-up study involving patients with chronic HCV was performed retrospectively. A total of 153 patients diagnosed between June 1981 and November 1990 with chronic HCV with or without cirrhosis by liver biopsy were enrolled in a long term follow-up study (average, 99.4 months) and the cumulative incidence rate of HCC and factors affecting the appearance of HCC were examined.

RESULTS: The 5-year cumulative incidence rate was 9%, the 10-year cumulative incidence rate was 23%, and the 15-year cumulative incidence rate was 42%. The annual rate of incidence increased as the follow-up period progressed. The authors selected ten variables and investigated their effect on the incidence rate of HCC, including age, gender, habitual heavy drinking, positivity of antibody against hepatitis B virus surface antigen, treatment with interferon (IFN) during the follow-up period, maximum and minimum serum alanine aminotransferase levels during the follow-up period, histologic staging, grading, and irregular regeneration of hepatocytes. Of the 10 variables, age (> 50 years), habitual heavy drinking, and histologic staging were determined to be independent risk factors according to multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression analysis. IFN therapy by itself was not found to be an independent factor affecting the appearance of HCC.

CONCLUSIONS: In patients with chronic HCV, the annual incidence rate of HCC appeared to increase as the follow-up period progressed. According to the results of the current study, the factors that independently affected the development of HCC were age, habitual heavy drinking, and histologic staging.

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