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Int J Cancer. 1980 Dec 15;26(6):711-5.

Association of hepatitis B virus infection with hepatocellular carcinoma in American patients.


Thirty-four patients from the Philadelphia area with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) were matched with colon cancer patients, lung cancer patients and blood donors according to age and sex. Sera from the four groups were tested to determine the prevalence of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), antibody to HBsAg (anti-HBs), and antibody to hepatitis B core antigen (anti-HBc). Five of the HCC patients (14.7%) and none of the controls were positive for HBsAg. At least one of the three serologic markers of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection was found in 51.5% of the HCC patients, 5.3% of the colon cancer patients, 11.1% of the lung cancer patients, and 10.7% of the blood donors. Twelve of the seventeen seropositive HCC patients (70.6%) were positive for anti-HBc alone, while all of the seropositive lung cancer patients and donors were positive for anti-HBs alone. Sera positive for any HBV marker were also tested for e antigen (HBeAg) and its antibody (anti-HBe). Four of the HCC patients (23.5% of the seropositives) had anti-HBe, while none of the sera tested had HBeAg. A history of alcoholism did not appear to influence HBV seropositivity in the HCC patients. This study supports the hypothesis that HBV infection is closely associated with HCC even in areas where both conditions are uncommon. The wide disparity between seropositivity for HBsAg and anti-HBc in the HCC patients is an unusual feature, for which an age effect may be the best explanation.

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