Link Between Hepatitis C Virus, Liver Cancers Explored

Hepatitis C infection associated with increased risk of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma

TUESDAY, Jan. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) is associated with over a twofold increased risk of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC), suggesting the risk of HCV-associated cancer is not limited to hepatocellular carcinoma, according to research published in the January issue of Hepatology.

Hashem B. El-Serag, M.D., of the Houston VA Medical Center, and colleagues conducted a cohort study of 146,394 HCV-infected and 572,293 HCV-uninfected patients who received care from the VA health centers between 1996 and 2004. This study included a follow-up of 1.37 million person-years, and assessed the risk of ICC, extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, pancreatic cancer and hepatocellular carcinoma.

As has been observed in previous studies, the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma was highly increased (15.09-fold) in HCV patients. Interestingly, the risk for ICC was also elevated in these patients, although to a lower degree (2.55-fold), the researchers report. Adjustment for the presence of cirrhosis, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, alcoholism and other variables did not significantly impact the increased risk for ICC, the investigators found. The risk for extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma was not significantly increased, nor was the risk for pancreatic cancer after patients were adjusted for alcohol use, pancreatitis and other factors.

"Early intervention strategies, including screening HCV-positive individuals earlier or more rigorously, may improve the outcomes for both hepatocellular carcinoma and ICC," the authors conclude.

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