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      Hepatitis C virus infection is associated with the development of hepatocellular carcinoma.

      Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

      Blood Transfusion, Carcinoma, Hepatocellular, complications, Female, Hepatitis B, diagnosis, Hepatitis B Antibodies, analysis, Hepatitis B Surface Antigens, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis, Viral, Human, Humans, Liver Neoplasms, Male, Middle Aged

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          A possible causative role for the recently discovered hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) was investigated by assay of sera from HCC patients in Japan for antibodies to a recombinant HCV antigen and to hepatitis B virus (HBV) antigens. Among the 253 HCC patients examined, 156 (61.7%) had no serum markers of either a previous or a current HBV infection (group I), 46 (18.2%) were negative for HBV surface antigen but positive for anti-HBV surface and/or anti-HBV core antibody, indicating the occurrence of a previous, transient HBV infection (group II), and 51 (20.2%) were chronically infected HBV carriers as evidenced by positivity for HBV surface antigen (group III). The prevalence of HCV antibody in group I (68.6%) and II (58.7%) patients was significantly higher than for group III (3.9%) or in 148 additional patients with other (non-HCC) cancers (10.1%) (P less than 0.01). Thus, there appears to be a strong association between HCV infection and the development of HCC, particularly in patients for which HBV infection cannot be implicated as a causative factor. The data also suggest an additional mode of transmission for HCV other than blood transfusion, since a history of blood transfusion was shown in only about 30% of the HCV antibody-positive HCC patients in groups I and II. A high prevalence of HCV antibody was also shown among patients with HCC whose disease was originally thought to be due to very high ethanol consumption.

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