Background & Aims: The risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is reduced but not eradicated among patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV)-induced advanced hepatic fibrosis who attained sustained viral response (SVR). We aimed to assess the risk of cirrhosis-related complications in this specific group of patients.
Methods: Data from previously reported Western cohort studies including patients with chronic HCV infection and bridging fibrosis or cirrhosis who attained SVR were pooled for survival analyses on the individual patient level. The primary endpoint was HCC and the secondary endpoint was clinical disease progression, defined as liver failure, HCC or death.
Results: Included were 1000 patients with SVR. Median age was 52.7 (IQR 45.1-59.7) years, 676 (68%) were male and 842 (85%) had cirrhosis. Median follow-up was 5.7 (IQR 2.9-8.0) years. Fifty-one patients developed HCC and 101 had clinical disease progression. The cumulative 8-year HCC incidence was 1.8 (95% CI 0.0-4.3) among patients with bridging fibrosis and 8.7% (95% CI 6.0-11.4) among those with cirrhosis (p = 0.058). Within the cirrhosis group, the 8-year HCC incidence was 2.6% (95% CI 0.0-5.5) among patients <45. years, 9.7% (95% CI 5.8-13.6) among patients from 45-60. years, and 12.2% (95% CI 5.3-19.1) among patients >60. years of age at start of therapy (p = 0.006). Multivariable Cox analyses indicated that higher age, lower platelet count and diabetes mellitus were independently associated with development of HCC. After 8. years 4.2% (95% CI 0.1-8.3) of patients with bridging fibrosis and 15.8% (95% CI 12.3-19.3) of patients with cirrhosis experienced clinical disease progression (p = 0.007).
Conclusions: Patients with HCV-induced cirrhosis and SVR showed an annual risk of approximately 1% for HCC and 2% for clinical disease progression. Therefore, to prevent HCC surveillance, chronic HCV infection should preferably be treated before cirrhosis has developed.
Lay summary: Patients with cirrhosis who were able to eradicate their chronic HCV infection remain at substantial risk of primary liver cancer. The risk of liver cancer increases with higher age, laboratory makers suggesting more severe liver disease, and presence of diabetes mellitus. Also after successful antiviral therapy patients with HCV-induced cirrhosis should thus remain included in follow-up for early detection of liver cancer.

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Journal of Hepatology
Department of Gastroenterology & Hepatology

van der Meer, A., Feld, J. J., Hofer, H. (Harald), Almasio, P., Calvaruso, V. (Vincenza), Fernández-Rodríguez, C.M. (Conrado M.), … Janssen, H. (2015). Risk of cirrhosis-related complications in patients with advanced fibrosis following hepatitis C virus eradication. Journal of Hepatology. doi:10.1016/j.jhep.2016.10.017