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Cirrhosis Patients at Increased Risk of Extrahepatic Cancer

Higher incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma and non-hepatocellular cancers

MONDAY, Feb. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with liver cirrhosis have more than double the risk of developing extrahepatic cancer than the general population, and they also have a significantly increased risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), according to a study published in the February issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Evangelos Kalaitzakis, M.D., of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and colleagues investigated the incidence of malignant neoplasms in patients diagnosed with cirrhosis between 1994 and 2005. Of the 1,019 patients, 68 percent were men, 48 percent had alcoholic liver disease (ALD), 10 percent had hepatitis C virus (HCV), and 12 percent had both ALD and HCV.

The researchers found that, compared to the general population, patients with cirrhosis were at increased risk of HCC (26-fold); cholangiocarcinoma (13-fold); colorectal cancer (four-fold); and cancers of the esophagus (eight-fold), pancreas (five-fold), and lung (five-fold). HCC occurred more frequently among patients with HCV than other diseases, and the risk of HCC among patients with HCV was similar whether they had ALD or not. Patients with non-ALD cirrhosis were at increased risk for cholangiocarcinoma; whereas, the risk for extrahepatic cancers increased mainly among patients with ALD and cirrhosis.

"This study confirms the association of liver cirrhosis with HCC and further indicates that non-HCC malignant neoplasms may be more common in patients with cirrhosis compared with the general population," the authors write.

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