Objective: Chronic infection with hepatitis C may lead to the development of cirrhosis, liver failure, and hepatocellular carcinoma. However, not all patients progress to these endpoints. Ideally, clinicians could improve their capability of stratifying the risk and the time frame within which their patients will progress to these endpoints. The purpose of the present study was to construct statistical models predicting disease progression for individual patients.
Methods: Study endpoints were the development of hepatocellular carcinoma, liver transplantation, or death due to liver disease. The study cohort was 256 patients with hepatitis C acquired from either blood transfusion or use of intravenous drugs. During follow-up, 17 patients developed hepatocellular carcinoma, seven received liver transplantation, and 12 died from liver disease.
Results: On multivariate analysis a history of decompensation (relative risk [RR] 4.321, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.777-10.511) and the serum albumin (RR 0.253, 95% CI 0.136-0.474) were independently associated with the study endpoints. Patients without a history of decompensation and with a serum albumin > or = 4.1 mg/dl had a 3.2% chance of developing the study endpoints within 5 yr. Patients with a history of decompensation and a serum albumin < 4.1 mg/dl had a 40% chance of developing a study endpoint within 5 yr. Baseline genotype and quantitative RNA were not associated with development of the clinical endpoints, with the exception of patients coinfected with two or more genotypes.
Conclusion: Thus, the serum albumin and a history of decompensation are useful for predicting the development of hepatocellular carcinoma, liver transplantation, and death due to liver disease among patients with hepatitis C.