All-Cause Mortality and Progression Risks to Hepatic Decompensation and Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Patients Infected With Hepatitis C Virus

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Clinical infectious diseases


BACKGROUND: A key question in care of patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is beginning treatment immediately vs delaying treatment. Risks of mortality and disease progression in "real world" settings are important to assess the implications of delaying HCV treatment.

METHODS: This was a cohort study of HCV patients identified from 4 integrated health systems in the United States who had liver biopsies during 2001-2012. The probabilities of death and progression to hepatocellular carcinoma, hepatic decompensation (hepatic encephalopathy, esophageal varices, ascites, or portal hypertension) or liver transplant were estimated over 1, 2, or 5 years by fibrosis stage (Metavir F0-F4) determined by biopsy at beginning of observation.

RESULTS: Among 2799 HCV-monoinfected patients who had a qualifying liver biopsy, the mean age at the time of biopsy was 50.7 years. The majority were male (58.9%) and non-Hispanic white (66.9%). Over a mean observation of 5.0 years, 261 (9.3%) patients died and 34 (1.2%) received liver transplants. At 5 years after biopsy, the estimated risk of progression to hepatic decompensation or hepatocellular carcinoma was 37.2% in stage F4, 19.6% in F3, 4.7% in F2, and 2.3% in F0-F1 patients. Baseline biopsy stage F3 or F4 and platelet count below normal were the strongest predictors of progression to hepatic decompensation or hepatocellular carcinoma.

CONCLUSIONS: The risks of death and progression to liver failure varied greatly by fibrosis stage. Clinicians and policy makers could use these progression risk data in prioritization and in determining the timing of treatment for patients in early stages of liver disease.

Medical Subject Headings

Adult; Aged; Biopsy; Carcinoma, Hepatocellular; Cohort Studies; Disease Progression; Female; Hepatitis C, Chronic; Humans; Liver Cirrhosis; Liver Failure; Male; Middle Aged; Risk Assessment; Severity of Illness Index; Survival Analysis; United States; Young Adult

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