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Factors Tied to Higher Risk of Liver Cancer in Hep C Patients

Hepatitis C patients with elevated HCV RNA and ALT levels may be at increased risk

FRIDAY, Sept. 24 (HealthDay News) -- People with elevated hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA and ALT levels and HCV genotype 1 appear to be at increased risk for developing hepatocellular carcinoma, according to research published online Sept. 20 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Mei-Hsuan Lee, of the National Taiwan University, and colleagues assessed serum HCV RNA and ALT levels and HCV genotypes in 925 subjects positive for HCV antibodies who were followed from 1991 to 2006. Their objective was to determine those three factors' predictability of hepatocellular carcinoma risk.

During follow-up, 55 subjects developed hepatocellular carcinoma. The researchers found that risk increased from 1.1 percent in those with HCV RNA seronegative status to 6.4 percent for subjects with low HCV RNA levels and 14.7 percent for those with high HCV RNA levels. Elevated serum ALT levels were also associated with increased cumulative risk, and presence of HCV genotype 1 was associated with a higher risk than not having that genotype (12.6 versus 4.5 percent).

"Elevated serum levels of HCV RNA and ALT and HCV genotype 1 infection are independent risk predictors of hepatocellular carcinoma. These findings have strong implications for the management of chronic HCV," the authors write.

The research was supported in part by Bristol-Myers Squibb.

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