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Swiss Med Wkly. 2012 Aug 6;142:w13651. doi: 10.4414/smw.2012.13651.

Characteristics of patients with chronic hepatitis C who develop hepatocellular carcinoma.

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Hepatology, Department of Clinical Research, University of Berne, Switzerland.



Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most frequent form of primary liver cancer and chronic infection with hepatitis C virus is one of the main risk factors for HCC. This study analyses the characteristics of the patients with chronic hepatitis C participating in the Swiss Hepatitis C Cohort Study who developed HCC.


Analysis of the database of the Swiss Hepatitis C Cohort Study, a multicentre study that is being carried out in eight major Swiss hospitals since the year 2000. Patients with chronic hepatitis C and HCC were regrouped and compared to the patients without HCC.


Among the 3,390 patients of the cohort, 130 developed an HCC. Age was one of the determining factors. Cirrhosis and its complications ascites and porto-systemic encephalopathy were associated with HCC. Males presented a higher risk for HCC than females. Alcohol consumption was associated with HCC. Diabetes mellitus was an important risk factor, especially in patients with low fibrosis. Patients with Hepatitis C genotype 2 had significantly less HCC than patients with other genotypes. A low socioeconomic status (income, education, profession) was associated with HCC.


Beside the expected characteristics (age, gender, cirrhosis, alcohol), these data stress the role of diabetes mellitus and reveal the importance of low socioeconomic status as a risk factor for HCC in Swiss patients infected with hepatitis C virus. This vulnerable population should be closely monitored.

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