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World J Gastroenterol. 2007 Feb 7;13(5):781-4.

Differences in characteristics of patients with and without known risk factors for hepatocellular carcinoma in the United States.

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Department of Surgery, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.



To examine the clinical characteristics of a subgroup of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and compare them to those with known risk factors.


We used the HCC database of 306 patients seen at our institution from January 1, 1995 to December 31, 2001. Of the 306 patients, 63 (20%, group 1) had no known risk factors (hepatitis C virus, hepatitis B virus, alcohol, hemochromatosis or cirrhosis from any cause) and 243 (group 2) had one or more risk factors.


The median age was similar in both groups, but there were disproportionate numbers of younger (< 30 years old), older (> 80 years) patients, women (33% vs 18%), and Caucasians (81% vs 52%) in group 1 as compared to group 2. There were fewer Asians (2% vs 11%) and African Americans (13% vs 27%) in group 1. Abdominal pain (70% vs 37%) was more common while gastrointestinal bleeding (0% vs 11%) and ascites (4% vs 17%) were less common in group 1 compared to group 2. Group 1 had larger tumor burden (median size 9.4 cm vs 5.7 cm) at the time of presentation, but there were no differences in the site (right, left or bilateral lesions), or number of tumors between the two groups.


HCC patients without identifiable risk factors have different characteristics and clinical presentation compared to those with known risk factors. Absence of cirrhosis and larger tumor burden may explain the differences in the presenting symptoms.

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