Temporal trends of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease-related hepatocellular carcinoma in the veteran affairs population

Sahil Mittal, Yvonne H Sada, Hashem B El-Serag, Fasiha Kanwal, Zhigang Duan, Sarah Temple, Sarah B May, Jennifer R Kramer, Peter A Richardson, Jessica A Davila
Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology 2015, 13 (3): 594-601.e1

BACKGROUND & AIMS: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a risk factor for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, no systemic studies from the United States have examined temporal trends, HCC surveillance practices, and outcomes of NAFLD-related HCC.

METHODS: We identified a national cohort of 1500 patients who developed HCC from 2005 through 2010 from Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals. We reviewed patients' full VA medical records; NAFLD was diagnosed based on histologic evidence for, or the presence of, the metabolic syndrome in the absence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, hepatitis B, or alcoholic liver disease. We compared annual prevalence values for the main risk factors (NAFLD, alcohol abuse, and HCV), as well a HCC surveillance and outcomes, among HCC patients.

RESULTS: NAFLD was the underlying risk factor for HCC in 120 patients (8.0%); the annual proportion of NAFLD-related HCC remained relatively stable (7.5%-12.0%). In contrast, the proportion of HCC cases associated with HCV increased from 61.0% in 2005 (95% confidence interval, 53.1%-68.9%) to 74.9% in 2010 (95% confidence interval, 69.0%-80.7%). The proportion of HCC cases associated with only alcohol abuse decreased from 21.9% in 2005 to 15.7% in 2010, and the annual proportion of HCC cases associated with hepatitis B remained relatively stable (1.4%-3.5%). A significantly lower proportion of patients with NAFLD-related HCC had cirrhosis (58.3%) compared with patients with alcohol- or HCV-related HCC (72.4% and 85.6%, respectively; P < .05). A significantly higher percentage of patients with NAFLD-related HCC did not receive HCC surveillance in the 3 years before their HCC diagnosis, compared with patients with alcohol- or HCV-associated HCC. A lower proportion of patients with NAFLD-related HCC received HCC-specific treatment (61.5%) than patients with HCV-related HCC (77.5%; P < .01). However, the 1-year survival rate did not differ among patients with HCC related to different risk factors.

CONCLUSIONS: NAFLD is the third most common risk factor for HCC in the VA population. The proportion of NAFLD-related HCC was relatively stable from 2005 through 2010. Although patients with NAFLD-related HCC received less HCC surveillance and treatment, a similar proportion survive for 1 year, compared with patients with alcohol-related or HCV-related HCC.

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