Long interval between HCV infection and development of hepatocellular carcinoma


Liver Unit, Hospital General Universitari Vall d'Hebron, PS Vall d'Hebron 119–129, 08035 Barcelona, Spain


Abstract: A high prevalence of HCV infection has been reported in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. The progression from acute transfusion-associated hepatitis to hepatic cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma has been suggested in several studies to be very long. We have investigated the prevalence of anti-HCV and the interval between HCV infection and hepatocellular carcinoma among 191 consecutive patients with cirrhosis and liver-cell carcinoma. Serum samples from 191 patients with cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma, consecutively diagnosed in our hospital between 1988 and 1993, were tested for serological markers of HBV and HCV infection. One hundred and forty-eight patients (77.5%; 95% confidence interval (c.i): 76% to 80%) were anti-HCV positive by 2nd generation enzyme immunoassay (confirmed by 2nd generation recombinant immunoblot assay) and 152 patients (79.5%; 95% c.i: 76% to 80%) were anti-HCV positive by 3rd generation enzyme immunoassay, while only 14 (7.4%; 95% c.i: 5% to 10%) were HBsAg positive. Of the 29 anti-HCV positive patients with previous transfusion, the interval between the date of blood transfusion and the diagnosis of hepatic cirrhosis was 24±12.5 years and that of hepatocellular carcinoma was 26.8±12.4 years. These results confirm the high prevalence of HCV infection in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma and the slow sequential progression from HCV infection through cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma.