Hepatocellular carcinoma in Stockholm, Sweden 2003-2018: a population-based cohort study

Scand J Gastroenterol. 2022 May 23;1-9. doi: 10.1080/00365521.2022.2062257. Online ahead of print.


Background and aims: Available epidemiological data on hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) originate mainly from centre-based or disease-specific cohorts and may not reflect the general population. This population-based register study presents the incidence, aetiologies, treatments, survival, and differences related to sex or socioeconomic status in patients with HCC from Stockholm, which constitutes more than a fifth of the Swedish population.

Methods: ICD-10 codes identified incident HCC cases in the regional administrative health care database 2003-2018. Administrative coding on diseases, socioeconomic status, and dispensed drugs were used to identify risk factors and therapies. Two validation analyses 2014-2015 studied the correctness of register-based aetiologies and reasons for providing only best supportive care (BSC).

Results: We identified 2,245 incident cases of HCC. The incidence increased from 6 to 7.5 per 100,000 inhabitants over the time-period. The most common aetiologies were hepatitis C (26%), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (22%), and alcohol-related liver disease (19%). Five-year survival probability was 79% after liver transplantation, 60% after resection, and 35% after ablation but <10% for chemoembolization, Sorafenib, and BSC. The proportion receiving any treatment increased but half of the patients only received BSC. At least 14% of potentially treatable HCC (surveillance indicated but not performed) received only BSC 2014-2015. We found no significant differences in treatments or outcomes between socioeconomic groups.

Conclusions: The incidence of HCC is rising in Stockholm, Sweden but is still low by global comparison. Near half of all patients still receive only BSC and study data suggest that surveillance practices are incomplete.

Keywords: Incidence; liver cancer; socio-economic; sorafenib; survival; therapy.