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Risk of liver cancer from hepatitis B persists even after clearing the virus

Long-term infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) can cause liver inflammation and increase the risk of liver cancer. Researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, found that resolving HBV infection was not associated with reduced rates of liver cancer.

A total of 238 patients who resolved HBV infection and 435 patients who did not were selected from among 1346 patients with chronic HBV infection followed for up to 31 years. The liver cancer risk, measured as a hazard ratio (HR), in patients after resolving HBV infection was similar compared with the risk in patients who did not resolve infection (HR: 0.7; 95% confidence interval: 0.2-2.4).

“Since the risk of liver cancer persists among adults with apparent cure of the infection, they might still need to be followed closely,” said Dr. Prabhu Gounder, lead author of the Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics article.

Article: Nested case-control study: hepatocellular carcinoma risk after hepatitis B surface antigen seroclearance, Gounder, P. P., Bulkow, L. R., Snowball, M., Negus, S., Spradling, P. R., Simons, B. C. and McMahon, B. J,Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, doi: 10.1111/apt.13621, published online 8 April 2016.