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Cancer. 1992 Jul 1;70(1):40-4.

Does hepatitis C virus infection contribute to hepatocellular carcinoma in Hong Kong?

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1
Department of Medicine, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Hong Kong has a high incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and, because it is an endemic area for hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, the etiologic association between HCC and HBV infection is reported to be as high as 80%. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) recently was shown to be a possible pathogenetic agent for HCC in a number of countries.

METHODS:

To assess the relative importance of these two viruses in HCC in Hong Kong, a retrospective study of 424 Chinese patients with HCC was performed.

RESULTS:

Three hundred forty-one (80.3%) patients were found to be carriers of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg). Hepatitis C antibodies (anti-HCV) were detected in 31 patients (7.3%). Fifteen patients with positive findings for anti-HCV had concurrent HBV infection, 11 had serologic evidence of previous HBV infection, and only 5 patients had anti-HCV marker alone. Patients with positive findings for anti-HCV were older than those with HBsAg (mean ages, 60 and 53 years, respectively). A higher preponderance of male patients was found in the HBsAg-positive group; the male to female ratio was 11:1, compared with 7:1 among patients with anti-HCV. Anti-HCV was detected in 0.64% of 175 age-matched and sex-matched controls.

CONCLUSIONS:

These data indicate a possible causal role of HCV infection in HCC, but it is of relatively minor epidemiologic significance in Hong Kong, where HBV infection is overwhelming.

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