Risk for hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with alcoholic cirrhosis: a Danish nationwide cohort study.Ann Intern Med. 2012 Jun 19; 156(12):841-7, W295.AIM
Patients with alcoholic cirrhosis are at higher risk for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The role of HCC surveillance for these patients is undefined.
To provide population-based estimates of HCC incidence and comparisons of HCC-related mortality and total mortality among patients with alcoholic cirrhosis as a basis for assessing the role of HCC surveillance.
Nationwide, registry-based, historical cohort study.
All Danish citizens with a first-time hospital diagnosis of alcoholic cirrhosis from 1993 to 2005.
Hepatocellular carcinoma incidence and mortality starting 1 year after diagnosis of alcoholic cirrhosis through 2009; ratio of HCC-related mortality to total mortality.
Among 8482 patients, 169 developed HCC. A total of 5734 patients died, 151 of whom had developed HCC. Five-year cumulative HCC risk was 1.0% (95% CI, 0.8% to 1.3%), and 5-year cumulative mortality was 43.7% (CI, 42.6% to 44.7%). Only 1.8% of all deaths were HCC-related. In sensitivity analyses that included all possible HCC diagnoses and a subpopulation of patients who were followed by hepatologists, the highest 5-year HCC risk was 1.9% (CI, 0.8% to 3.9%). These patients did not have higher mortality than patients in the nationwide cohort.
Cirrhosis and HCC diagnoses were made by hospital physicians without uniform clinical criteria, and use of registry data precluded detailed information on clinical care of patients, including HCC surveillance.
Danish patients with alcoholic cirrhosis have a low risk for HCC, and HCC contributes little to their high mortality. On the basis of these data, HCC surveillance would be expected to have a minimal effect on mortality and is unlikely to be cost-effective.