Background & aims: Few data are available concerning the long-term prognosis of chronic liver disease associated with hepatitis C virus infection. This study examined the morbidity and survival of patients with compensated cirrhosis type C.
Methods: A cohort of 384 European cirrhotic patients was enrolled at seven tertiary referral hospitals and followed up for a mean period of 5 years. Inclusion criteria were biopsy-proven cirrhosis, abnormal serum aminotransferase levels, absence of complications of cirrhosis, and exclusion of hepatitis A and B viruses and of metabolic, toxic, or autoimmune liver diseases.
Results: Antibodies against hepatitis C virus were positive in 98% of 361 patients tested. The 5-year risk of hepatocellular carcinoma was 7% and that of decompensation was 18%. Death occurred in 51 patients (13%), with 70% dying of liver disease. Survival probability was 91% and 79% at 5 and 10 years, respectively. Two hundred five patients (53%) were treated with interferon alfa. After adjustment for clinical and serological differences at baseline between patients treated or not treated with interferon, the 5-year estimated survival probability was 96% and 95% for treated and untreated patients, respectively.
Conclusions: In this cohort of patients, life expectancy is relatively long, in agreement with the morbidity data showing a slowly progressive disease.