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Blood. 1997 Dec 1;90(11):4628-33.

Prevalence and natural history of hepatitis C infection in patients cured of childhood leukemia.

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Clinica Pediatrica Università di Milano, Department of Pediatric Hematology, S. Gerardo Hospital, Monza, Italy.


The aim of this study was to ascertain prevalence and natural history of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in a large cohort of patients cured of childhood leukemia who had been followed prospectively for liver disease for at least 10 years since chemotherapy withdrawal: 114 consecutive patients entered the study. Liver function tests and ultrasonography were used to assess presence of liver disease. Patients were tested for antibody to HCV and for serum HCV-RNA at the end of chemotherapy and at the end of follow-up. At chemotherapy withdrawal, 56 patients (49%) were HCV-RNA positive, often without detectable anti-HCV, and in these cases, transaminase levels were more elevated during (P = .08) and after (P = .04) chemotherapy compared with HCV-RNA negative cases. Patients were then followed-up 13 to 27 years (mean, 17) after chemotherapy withdrawal. During this period, 38 initially anti-HCV negative patients seroconverted to anti-HCV and 17 initially anti-HCV positive cases lost reactivity. Forty patients were persistently HCV-RNA positive in serum, while 16 initially viremic patients became HCV-RNA negative during follow-up. At the end of the observation period, a persistent transaminase elevation was detected only in four HCV-RNA positive and anti-HCV positive cases, while no patient developed signs or symptoms of decompensated liver disease. Thus, hepatitis C was a frequent finding in long-term survivors after chemotherapy. It was associated with an atypical serologic profile and did not cause severe liver impairment over a period of 13 to 27 years.

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