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Anticancer Res. 1997 Sep-Oct;17(5B):3897-9.

Hepatic siderosis, fibrosis and cirrhosis: the association with hepatocellular carcinoma in high-risk population.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Gdansk Medical School, Poland.


Iron overload has been shown to impair the immune response of the liver, and induce hepatic fibrosis and cirrhosis. Opinions differ concerning the relative risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in siderotic patients as compared with patients with hepatic fibrosis and cirrhosis and the possible mechanism of liver carcinogenesis in genetic hemochromatosis is still unknown. The purpose of this study is to assess hepatic iron overload, fibrosis and cirrhosis in liver tissue adjacent to hepatocellular carcinoma and in liver tissue of controls in population at risk for hepatocellular carcinoma. Liver tissue was available for examination in 147 biopsies with HCC collected in South Africa. As controls we used liver samples from 211 age and sex matched Africans who died in accidents. Tissue samples were processed routinely, stained with H and E, Sweet's reticulin, Masson's trichrome for fibrous tissue, Prussian blue for iron stain and immunohistochemically for HBsAg. Iron content was assessed with the method described by Brissot. Iron overload was detected in 42.1% of cancerous livers and in 43.7% of livers from controls. The presence of siderosis and iron content gradually increased with the age of studied similarly in cases and in controls. Cirrhosis was present in 32% of cancerous livers and was associated with iron overload in 13%. No cirrhosis and 6% of mild periportal fibrosis not related with siderosis was observed in controls. HBsAg was stainable in 80% of cancerous livers of patients below 25 years of age and in 40% of patients over 35 years. HBsAg in controls was positive in 9%. No relationship of HBsAg and amount of stainable iron in cancerous and livers of controls was found. In conclusion, African siderosis can not play important role in the etiopathogenesis of HCC.

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