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Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2011 Feb;9(2):168-74. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2010.10.014. Epub 2010 Oct 26.

Increased risk for malignant neoplasms among patients with cirrhosis.

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Institute of Internal Medicine, University of Gothenburg, Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg, Sweden.



It is not clear how cirrhosis affects the risks for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and non-HCC cancers, which are rare among these patients. We assessed the risk for malignant neoplasms in patients with cirrhosis.


Patients diagnosed with cirrhosis in Gothenburg, Sweden, from 1994 to 2005 were identified and linked to the National Cancer and Death registers. We studied data from 1019 patients with cirrhosis: 68% men, 48% with alcoholic liver disease (ALD), 10% with hepatitis C virus (HCV), and 12% with HCV + ALD. Standardized incidence ratios for malignant neoplasms were calculated (corrected for sex, age, and calendar year according to data from the general Swedish population). The follow-up period was 3290 person-years.


Overall, 114 (11%) patients developed HCC; HCC occurred more frequently among patients with HCV than other diseases (P < .05). HCC risk did not differ among patients with HCV, with or without ALD (P > .05). Compared with the general population, cirrhotic patients had increased risk for HCC (26-fold); cholangiocarcinoma (13-fold); and esophageal (8-fold), pancreatic (5-fold), and colorectal and lung cancers (each 4-fold). The risk for cholangiocarcinoma increased mainly among patients with non-ALD cirrhosis, whereas the risk for extrahepatic malignancies increased mainly among patients with ALD and cirrhosis.


The overall risk for non-HCC malignancies is more than 2-fold greater for patients with cirrhosis (mostly in biliary and gastrointestinal malignancies) than of the general population. The risk for non-HCC cancers differs between patients with ALD and non-ALD cirrhosis. The increased risk for HCC among patients with cirrhosis is associated with HCV; it is the same among patients with HCV, with or without ALD.

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