Risk factors for hepatocellular carcinoma in Hepatitis C patients with sustained virologic response to interferon therapy


Yoshiaki Iwasaki, MD, Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine and Dentistry, 2-5-1, Shikata-cho, Okayama 700-8558, Japan.
Tel: +81 86 235 7219
Fax: +81 86 225 5991
e-mail: yiwasaki@cc.okayama-u.ac.jp


Abstract: Background: Although a variety of papers demonstrated inhibited hepatocarcinogenesis with interferon (IFN) therapy for chronic hepatitis C, a small number of hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) were still observed even in sustained virologic responders.

Aims: To clarify factors affecting the development of HCC, we analyzed the frequency of HCC in sustained virologic responders over a long-term observation period.

Methods: Seven hundred and ninety-two out of the 2623 IFN-treated hepatitis C patients who had undergone liver biopsy showed sustained virologic response. Screening for development of HCC was performed periodically during an average follow-up of 5.1 years. Fibrosis of the pretreatment liver biopsy sample was graded. Risk factors for HCC were analyzed by using Cox proportional hazards regression.

Results: Of 792 patients, 23 developed HCC. Univariate analysis showed that stage of hepatic fibrosis, age, and alcohol consumption were significantly associated with a risk of HCC (P<0.001). There was a significant difference in the cumulative incidence between patients stratified according to these variables (P<0.001).

Conclusions: Pretreatment hepatic fibrosis score, age, and alcohol consumption may affect development of HCC even in sustained virologic responders. Thus, patients with these factors should be carefully followed even after eradication of the virus.