The International Liver Congress recently announced that cancer rates in patients with hepatitis C virus were significantly increased compared to non-hepatitis C virus patients.
Researchers suggest that an extrahepatic manifestation of hepatitis C may be an increased risk of cancer.
The aim of the study was to describe the rates of all cancers in hepatitis C patients compared to the non-hepatitis C population. The known cancer types associated with hepatitis C include non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, renal and prostate cancers as well as liver cancer.
The study recorded all cancer diagnoses in patients over 18 years old with or without hepatitis C during 2008 – 2012. Within hepatitis C patient group there were 1,524 per 100,000 diagnoses during the 5 year period and 1,139 per 100,000 cancer diagnoses when liver cancer was excluded. In the non-hepatitis group there were 605 per 100,000 diagnoses and 601 per 100,000 when liver cancer was excluded.
When all cancer were considered, the rate is 2.5 times higher in the hepatitis C group and when liver cancers are excluded, the rate is still almost 2 times higher.
The author of the study explained that the results suggest that cancer rates are increased in the group of hepatitis C patients versus the non-hepatitis C patients, both including and excluding liver cancers. These findings point to the suggestion that hepatitis C may be associated with an increased risk of cancer.
However researchers also assert that confounding factors such as alcohol abuse, tobacco, obesity and diabetes additionally modified the results.
The data from this study adds to the accumulating evidence linking hepatitis C with an increased risk of cancer. Unfortunately, there is still more evidence needed in order to fully understand this complex and devastating disease.