Prospective study of hepatocellular carcinoma and liver cirrhosis in asymptomatic chronic hepatitis B virus carriers

Am J Epidemiol. 1997 Jun 1;145(11):1039-47. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a009060.


The authors conducted a study to assess the importance of underlying liver cirrhosis in the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and the multifactorial etiology of liver cirrhosis in chronic carriers of hepatitis B virus (HBV). Between November 1980 and May 1990, all male hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) carriers who routinely attended a clinic for asymptomatic HBV carriers at the Liver Unit of Chang-Gung Memorial Hospital, Taiwan, were enrolled in the study (n = 1,506). The authors used this cohort to investigate prospectively for liver cirrhosis and HCC at 6-month intervals by means of ultrasonography and clinical assessment. There were 16 incident cases of HCC and 89 cases of liver cirrhosis (78 of whom were detected during follow-up) identified after an average follow-up of 7.1 years. Subclinical liver cirrhosis diagnosed by ultrasonography was significantly associated with the risk for HCC (multivariate-adjusted relative risk (RR) = 11.8, 95% confidence interval (CI) 3.9-35.8). By multivariate analysis, the significant risk factors found for liver cirrhosis in HBsAg carriers were age, hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) carrier status, chronic hepatitis manifested by sustained elevated serum aminotransferase levels for > or = 6 months, cigarette smoking, non-A blood types, and low educational levels. Habitual alcohol drinking was not independently related to liver cirrhosis. However, the risk of liver cirrhosis associated with smoking was more striking among drinkers than nondrinkers (> or = 20 cigarettes/day vs. nonsmokers: drinkers, RR = 9.3, 95% CI 1.1-78.8; nondrinkers, RR = 1.85, 95% CI 0.98-3.51), which suggests a possible modification effect of alcohol drinking on the liver cirrhosis risk of cigarette smoking. The authors observed synergistic effects on liver cirrhosis development for cigarette smoking with HBeAg carrier status and chronic hepatitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / diagnostic imaging
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / virology*
  • Carrier State*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Hepatitis B / complications*
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Liver Cirrhosis / virology*
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Liver Neoplasms / virology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Taiwan
  • Ultrasonography