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J Hepatol. 1999 Feb;30(2):325-9.

Premalignant lesions and hepatocellular carcinoma in a non-cirrhotic alcoholic patient with iron overload and normal transferrin saturation.

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  • 1Fédération d'Hépatologie-Gastroentérologie, Hôpital Saint-André, Université Bordeaux 2, France.


A 66-year-old white man had a hepatic resection for a 6-cm well-differentiated hepatocellular carcinoma which had developed in a non-cirrhotic liver. The only risk factors found were heavy drinking, smoking and heterozygosity for the C282Y mutation of the HFE gene. The liver was mildly fibrotic and overloaded with iron. It also contained numerous iron-free hepatocellular lesions from <1 to 10 mm, suggesting a premalignant change. These lesions were of three types: (i) iron-free foci, (ii) hyperplastic nodules and (iii) dysplastic nodules with severe dysplasia or even foci of well-differentiated grade I hepatocellular carcinoma. This observation suggests the possibility of malignant transformation of the liver in the newly-described syndrome of iron overload and normal transferrin saturation. It also illustrates the multistep process of carcinogenesis in the non-cirrhotic liver.

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