Hepatocellular carcinoma in hemophilia

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Abstract

A questionnaire-based survey Involving 11,801 hemophiliacs from 54 hemophilia centers in the USA and Europe documented the occurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma(HCC) in 10 patients. The crude rate of HCC was 3.2/100,000 patients/year, at least 30 times higher than the background incidence of this tumor in the countries of origin of the patients. All patients were Caucasians with hemophilia A, 39 to 74 years of age, and had liver cirrhosis. All had one or more risk factor for cirrhosis and HCC: 5 were positive for serum hepatitis B surface antigen, 4 had the antibody to hepatitis C virus, and 4 had histories of alcohol abuse. Serum alpha-fetoprotein, measured in 6 patients, was significantly elevated in 4 (range: 807-1399 ng/ml), and only moderately elevated in 2 (25 and 171 ng/ml). The onset of HCC was asymptomatic in 5 patients, whereas it was accompanied by jaundice, abdominal pain, or ascites in the remaining patients. Thus, HCC seems to be a more important secondary disease for hemophiliacs than formerly recognized. Since HCC is often asymptomatic, screening hemophiliacs with chronic liver disease with periodic ultrasound scans might increase the chances of detecting HCC at a stage amenable to surgical treatment.

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