This study sought to identify the independent risk factors involved in the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection who have normal alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels.
A total of 519 patients with average ALT integration values less than or equal to 40 IU/L over 10 years were included. Baseline ultrasound was done in all patients and 68 patients underwent liver biopsy at the start of this study. Factors associated with the cumulative incidence of HCC were determined.
HCC occurred in 48 of 519 patients (9.2%). The following factors were significantly associated with the incidence of HCC: age > 65 years (adjusted hazard ratio: 2.006 [95% confidence interval: 1.078–3.733]), ALT > 20 IU/L (6.242 [1.499–25.987]), platelet count < 15.0 × 104/m3 (2.675 [1.407–5.085]), total bilirubin > 1.2 mg/dL (2.798 [1.257–6.228]), ALP > 338 IU/L (2.486 [1.327–4.657]), and total albumin < 3.5 g/dl (2.707 [1.177–6.223]). The 5- and 10-year cumulative incidences of HCC were 4.4% and 26.5% in patients with ALT > 20 IU/L and platelet count < 15.0 × 104/m3, respectively.
High ALT level and low platelet count are closely associated with the development of hepatocarcinogenesis. Therefore, individuals within this group are candidates for antiviral therapy.
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Published online: January 06, 2009
Accepted: November 8, 2008
Received in revised form: November 3, 2008
Received: July 23, 2008Associate Editor: K. Koike
☆The authors declare that they do not have anything to disclose regarding funding from industries or conflict of interest with respect to this manuscript.
© 2008 European Association for the Study of the Liver. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.