Background: The aim of this study was to evaluate the clinically significant predictors of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development among hepatitis C virus (HCV) cirrhotic patients receiving combination therapy. Patients and methods: One hundred and five compensated cirrhosis patients who received pegylated interferon plus ribavirin between January 2005 and December 2011 were enrolled. All the patients were examined with abdominal sonography and liver biochemistry at baseline, end of treatment, and every 3–6 months posttreatment. The occurrence of HCC was evaluated every 3–6 months posttreatment. Results: A total of 105 patients were enrolled (mean age 58.3±10.4 years). The average follow-up time for each patient was 4.38 years (standard deviation 1.73 years; range 1.13–9.27 years). Fifteen (14.3%) patients developed HCC during follow-up period. Thirteen of them had high baseline aspartate aminotransferase to platelet ratio index (APRI) (ie, an APRI > 2.0). Multivariate analysis showed that those without sustained virologic response (SVR) (hazard ratio [HR] 5.795; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.370–24.5; P=0.017) and high APRI (HR 5.548; 95% CI 1.191–25.86; P=0.029) had a significantly higher risk of HCC occurrence. The cumulative incidence of HCC was significantly higher (P=0.009) in patients without SVR (3-year cumulative incidence 21.4%; 95% CI 7.4%–35.5%; 5-year cumulative incidence 31.1%; 95% CI 11.2%–51.1%) compared to those with SVR (3- and 5-year cumulative incidence 6.2%; 95% CI 0%–1.3%). Further, the cumulative incidence of HCC was significantly higher (P=0.006) in patients with high APRI (3-year cumulative incidence 21.8%; 95% CI 8.2%–35.3%; 5-year cumulative incidence 30.5%, 95% CI 11.8%–49.3%) compared to those with low APRI (3- and 5-year cumulative incidence 4.2%, 95% CI 0%–1.0%). Conclusion: In HCV-infected cirrhotic patients who received combination therapy, APRI and SVR are the two major predictors of HCC development.
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