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Eur J Intern Med. 2006 Aug;17(5):325-9.

Hepatitis C virus in elderly cancer patients.

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Department of Senescence, Urological and Neurological Sciences, University of Catania, Italy.



There are few studies about the relationship between HCV and the development of other tumors. We consider the prevalence of HCV infection in elderly cancer patients who have tumors different from that in hepatocellular carcinoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.


We evaluated the prevalence of HCV infection in 236 elderly cancer patients in comparison with 300 elderly volunteers. Cancer patients presented a variety of tumors other than hepatocarcinoma and lymphoma, namely, colorectal (n=66), breast (n=44), bladder (n=40), prostate (n=30), lung (n=22), kidney (n=15), pancreatic (n=6), thyroid (n=5), cervical (n=4), melanoma (n=3) and vaginal (n=1).


Among the 236 elderly cancer patients, 87 were positive for HCV antibodies (36%) and, among the 300 elderly patients, 32 were positive (10%). A comparison between the two groups revealed a statistically significant difference (p<0.001) between patients with kidney cancer, bladder cancer or prostate cancer, and the control group.


The high anti-HCV prevalence in elderly cancer patients may be due to several mechanisms. These patients are more prone to acquire an HCV infection because of their frequent hospitalizations and the immunological changes in patients with tumors may lower their threshold for HCV infection.


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