[MOL] Hepatitis C Infection Primary Cause of Increase in Liver Cancer in [01268] Medicine On Line

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[MOL] Hepatitis C Infection Primary Cause of Increase in Liver Cancer in US Veterans

Title: Hepatitis C Infection Primary Cause of Increase in Liver Cancer in US Veterans
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Hepatitis C Infection Primary Cause of Increase in Liver Cancer in US Veterans

WESTPORT, CT (Reuters Health) Nov 27 - Hepatitis C virus is responsible for at least half of the witnessed increase in primary liver cancer in US veterans between 1993 and 1998. 

Dr. Hashem B. El-Serag, of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and Dr. Andrew C. Mason, of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, previously reported a 41% increase in mortality from primary liver cancer from the period 1981 to 1995 to the period 1991 to 1995. 

As reported in the November 27th issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, the investigators evaluated data drawn from the Department of Veteran Affairs Patient Treatment File. They observed an age-adjusted increase in hepatocellular carcinoma, from 34.4 to 44.5 cases per 100,000 hospitalizations, between the periods 1993 to 1995 and 1996 to 1998. 

The only risk factor to have increased significantly during this time was hepatitis C virus infection, from 2.3 to 7.2 per 100,000 cases, which accounted for 49% of the increased rate of liver cancer. Small and nonsignificant increases in the liver cancer rate were attributed to other risk factors, including alcoholic cirrhosis, hepatitis B infection, autoimmune hepatitis, and hereditary hemochromatosis. 

"A major chunk of the other 51% [of the increase in liver cancer] does not have a documented cause, so it is conceivable that some or most patients have hepatitis C or B or alcoholism," Dr. El-Serag told Reuters Health. 

Dr. El-Serag recommends increased screening for and treatment of hepatitis C to reverse the current trends in incidence of liver cancer, although "the jury is still out whether such treatment will result in reduction of hepatocellular carcinoma," he said. 

"Just because the follow-up period is so long and we've known the disease for such a short time, we don't really know whether treatment will necessarily lead to reductions in the incidence of liver cancer," Dr. El-Serag continued. "It makes sense biologically and plausibly." 

Arch Intern Med 2000;160:3227-3230. 

Reuters Copyright © 2000 Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.



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