Progressive fibrosis significantly correlates with hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with a sustained virological response
- Conflict of interest: The authors declare that they have nothing to disclose regarding funding or conflict of interest with respect to the manuscript.
Hepatocellular carcinoma develops even in some patients who achieve a sustained virological response following treatment for hepatitis C virus infection. This study investigated the relationship between changes in fibrosis, as assessed by sequential biopsies, and development of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients who achieved a sustained virological response for hepatitis C virus.
We enrolled 97 patients with sustained virological response who had undergone initial biopsies before therapy and sequential biopsies at an average of 5.8 ± 1.9 years after the initial biopsy. Factors associated with hepatocellular carcinoma were retrospectively analyzed.
The liver fibrotic stage regressed in 44 patients (45%), remained stable in 47 patients (48%) and progressed in six patients (6%). The fibrotic stage significantly decreased, from 1.54 ± 0.86 to 1.16 ± 1.07 units. Hepatocellular carcinoma was identified in 12 patients (12.4%). The cumulative incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with progressive fibrosis was significantly higher than that in patients with regressed or stable fibrosis (P < 0.001). A Cox proportional hazards regression analysis confirmed that progressive fibrosis in sequential liver biopsies (hazard ratio [HR], 8.30; P = 0.001) and low platelet counts before treatment (HR, 8.69; P = 0.006) were significant independent factors associated with the development of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with a sustained virological response.
Progressive fibrosis, assessed by sequential biopsies, was significantly correlated with development of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients who had achieved a sustained virological response for hepatitis C virus.