To clarify the relationship between hepatitis C virus infection and the development of hepatocellular carcinoma as sequelae of non-A, non-B posttransfusion hepatitis, 231 patients with chronic non-A, non-B hepatitis (96 with chronic hepatitis, 81 with cirrhosis and 54 with hepatocellular carcinoma) were analyzed for antibody to hepatitis C virus and were compared with 125 patients with chronic hepatitis B (50 with chronic hepatitis, 46 with cirrhosis and 29 with hepatocellular carcinoma). Antibody to hepatitis C virus was detected in 89.6%, 86.4% and 94.4% of patients with non-A, non-B hepatitis-related chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma, respectively, compared with 6%, 17.4% and 34.5% with similar diseases related to hepatitis B. A history of transfusion was documented in 52%, 33% and 42% of anti-hepatitis C virus-positive cases of chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. The mean intervals between the date of transfusion and the date of diagnosis of anti-hepatitis C virus—positive chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma were 10, 21.2 and 29 yr, respectively. In 21 patients with transfusion-associated hepatocellular carcinoma, anti-hepatitis C virus was present in each serial sample available for testing, including samples obtained up to 14 yr before the diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma. These data suggest the slow, sequential progression from acute hepatitis C virus—related non-A, non-B hepatitis through chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis to hepatocellular carcinoma and support a causal association between hepatitis C virus and hepatocellular carcinoma. (HEPATOLOGY 1990; 12:671–675).
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