Objective: We investigated the relation between hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) etiology and biological and clinical parameters indicative of severity of liver disease and/or tumor characteristics and patient survival.
Methods: We prospectively recruited 384 patients (82.3% male) with first diagnosis of HCC from 1995 to 1998 in Brescia, Italy. Etiology was assessed by interviewing patients regarding their history of alcohol intake and by testing sera for hepatitis B surface antigen and anti-hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibodies and HCV RNA.
Results: Heavy alcohol intake (>60 g of ethanol per day for at least 1 decade) was found in 33.1% of cases, hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in 9.4%, HCV in 19.8%, hemochromatosis in 1.3%, alcohol and HBV in 12.0%, alcohol and HCV in 16.1%, HBV and HCV in 3.1%, and no factor in 5.2%. Patients with HBV infection with or without heavy alcohol intake were significantly younger than the others (61.7 vs 64.7 yr, p < 0.001). The proportion of males was significantly higher in patients with heavy alcohol intake alone than in the other patient groups (93.7% vs 77.3%, p < 0.001). Among patients with HCV infection with or without heavy alcohol intake, fewer patients had maximum tumor diameter > 5 cm than the others (12% vs 29.1%, p < 0.001). Eighty patients (20.8%) were alive at the end of follow-up (median survival, 17.7 months), and no differences were observed in survival rates by HCC risk factor.
Conclusions: Although some differences were observed in severity of liver disease or tumor characteristics according to etiology, patient survival was not influenced by HCC etiology.