Evaluation of risk factors in the development of hepatocellular carcinoma in autoimmune hepatitis: Implications for follow-up and screening


  • Potential conflict of interest: Nothing to report.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has traditionally been considered a rare complication of cirrhosis secondary to autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), yet the true incidence remains unknown due to a lack of published data. Consequently, some professional guidelines do not mandate routine surveillance for HCC in this condition. Our aims were to evaluate the rate at which HCC develops among a large, prospectively obtained cohort of patients with AIH at a single center. Demographic, clinical, and laboratory indices associated with the development of HCC were also identified. HCC was discovered in 15 of 243 patients with AIH, all of whom had type 1 AIH equating to 1090 cases per 100,000 patient follow-up years. HCC occurred in the same proportion of females as males, 6.1% versus 6.4%, P = 0.95. HCC occurred more frequently in patients who had cirrhosis at presentation, 9.3% versus 3.4%, P = 0.048, or who had a variceal bleed as the index presentation of AIH, 20% versus 5.3%, P = 0.003. The median duration from time of confirmed cirrhosis to a diagnosis of HCC was 102.5 months, range 12-195 months. Median survival in patients whose HCC was diagnosed on surveillance was 19 months (range 6-36 months) compared with 2 months (range 0-14 months) for patients presenting symptomatically (P = 0.042). Conclusion: Cirrhosis in AIH is the sine qua non for HCC development, which subsequently occurs at a rate of 1.1% per year and affects men and women in equal proportions. (HEPATOLOGY 2008.)