Hepatitis C progressing to hepatocellular carcinoma: the HCV dialysis patient in dilemma


Wendy A. Henderson, PhD, MSN, CRNP, Symptoms Management Branch, Biobehavioral Unit, National Institute of Nursing Research, National Institutes of Health, 10 Center Drive, 2-1339, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA. E-mail: hendersw@mail.nih.gov


Summary.  Approximately 3.2 million people in the United States have chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection; the primary cause for adult liver transplantation and a significant burden on healthcare resources. The role of HCV and other risk factors in development of HCC in patients with chronic kidney disease is not well defined. We studied predictors of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in dialysis patients with chronic HCV by analyzing factors associated with its development. Data were extracted from the United States Renal Database System (USRDS) using ICD-9 codes. Variables included were gender, race, duration on dialysis and co-morbidities (alcohol abuse, drug abuse, HIV, hepatitis B, diabetes and/or presence of cirrhosis). Among the 32 806 HCV infected subjects, 262 cases had HCC. HCC was 12 times more likely in subjects with cirrhosis (< 0.001), three times more likely in subjects with alcohol abuse (< 0.001), and 1.3 times more likely in subjects with diabetes (= 0.04). Asians were three times more likely (< 0.001) to have HCC. Females were less likely to have HCC compared to males (= 0.002). The likelihood of having HCC increased with age (=0.001). This population-based study demonstrates that among subjects with HCV on dialysis, those with cirrhosis, Asian race and history of alcohol abuse are at highest risk for development of HCC. Furthermore, these findings indicate links between HCV and HCC which are valuable in case management for identifying; monitoring, and managing dialysis patients with HCC.