Distinct on-treatment HCC risks associated with different decompensation events in HBV patients with cirrhosis

Hepatol Int. 2023 Dec;17(6):1350-1358. doi: 10.1007/s12072-023-10567-0. Epub 2023 Aug 19.


Objectives: Long-term treatment with nucleoside analog (NA) reduces the risks for decompensation and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients with compensated cirrhosis (CC). However, whether antiviral therapy has differential efficacy on the risks for decompensation and HCC is insufficiently elucidated. Therefore, we investigated the disease state transition, focusing on decompensation event-specific HCC risk in NA-treated CHB patients with CC.

Methods: We prospectively followed up on 1163 NA-treated CHB patients with CC every six months for up to seven years. The cumulative incidence and risk of HCC were analyzed by the Kaplan-Meier method and competing risk model. The multistate model was used to estimate the transition probabilities to HCC from different disease states.

Results: HCC predominated the first liver-related events, with a 5-year cumulative incidence of 9.0%, followed by decompensation (8.3%, including 7.9% nonbleeding decompensation and 2.4% variceal bleeding) and 0.2% death. The decompensation stage had a significantly higher 5-year cumulative HCC incidence than the CC stage (27.6% vs. 9.1%; HR = 2.42, 95% CI: 1.24, 4.71). Furthermore, nonbleeding decompensation events had a higher 5-year transition probability to HCC than bleeding (27.6% vs. 15.8%; HR = 2.69, 95% CI: 1.41, 4.17). Viral suppression modified the on-treatment transition risk to HCC (1-year: HR = 0.45, 95% CI: 0.28, 0.73; 3-year: HR = 0.23, 95% CI: 0.14, 0.38). An online calculator was developed to facilitate HCC risk stratification.

Conclusions: In NA-treated CHB patients with compensated cirrhosis, the risk was higher for HCC than for decompensation; more importantly, different decompensation events conferred distinct HCC risks.

Keywords: Antiviral treatment; Chronic hepatitis B; Cirrhosis; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Multistate model.

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / drug therapy
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices* / complications
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / complications
  • Hepatitis B virus
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic* / complications
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic* / drug therapy
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications
  • Liver Cirrhosis / drug therapy
  • Liver Cirrhosis / epidemiology
  • Liver Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Liver Neoplasms* / etiology
  • Liver Neoplasms* / pathology


  • Antiviral Agents