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J Gastroenterol. 2005 Feb;40(2):148-56.

Risk factors for development of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with chronic hepatitis C after sustained response to interferon.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Kumamoto University, Kumamoto, Japan.



Interferon (IFN) is expected to prevent the progression of hepatitis C virus infection to cirrhosis and the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), but there have been several reports of the development of HCC after a sustained response to IFN. Our aim was to elucidate the incidence and clinical features of, and risk factors for, HCC in sustained responders to IFN, taken for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C.


We designed a retrospective cohort study conducted at 16 major Hospitals. The subjects were a total of 1056 patients showing sustained responses, 29 of whom developed HCC.


The incidence of HCC per 100 person-years was 0.56 (95% confidence interval, 0.35-0.76) in sustained responders. By the Cox proportional hazard model, we found that older age, higher serum aspartate aminotransferase level, and lower platelet count before IFN therapy were independent risk factors associated with the development of HCC. A risk index of HCC development, based on the coefficients of these risk factors, was used to classify patients into three groups, with low, intermediate, and high risk. The incidence rates of HCC for these three groups were 0.11, 0.44, and 1.98 per 100 person-years, respectively. The median period to the development of HCC was 4.6 years (range, 1.4-9.0 years), and there were no other specific clinical features of the HCC that developed in these patients.


This study suggests that the risk of development of HCC is not completely eliminated in sustained responders to IFN. These findings may be useful in determining a follow-up strategy after a sustained response to IFN.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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