Advertisement

Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease May Be Risk Factor for Liver Cancer

Advertisement

Key Points

  • The study included 296,707 patients who were known to have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and 296,707 patients who did not. Of the patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, 490 developed hepatocellular carcinoma over an 11-year period.
  • Patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease who had developed cirrhosis of the liver had the highest incidence annually of hepatocellular carcinoma; the risk for hepatocellular carcinoma increased with age; and older Hispanics with cirrhosis were at the highest risk for hepatocellular carcinoma.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is a common disease, and with the incidence of liver cancer rising across the country, little has been understood about the link between it and hepatocellular carcinoma. To establish a better understanding of the link between hepatocellular carcinoma risk and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, researchers at Baylor College of Medicine conducted a large, retrospective study of patients with and without nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. The results were published by Kanwal et al in Gastroenterology.

Study Findings

In this study, the research team looked at a diverse cohort of patients from 130 facilities in the Veterans Health Administration and followed them for roughly 11 years. The study included 296,707 patients who were known to have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and 296,707 patients who did not.

Of the patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, 490 developed hepatocellular carcinoma. The risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma was much higher in patients with than without nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

“Most importantly, we found that the risk for hepatocellular carcinoma is significantly higher in those patients with [nonalcoholic fatty liver disease], and this is the first large, diverse cohort study to quantify that risk,” said first author Fasiha Kanwal, MD, MSHS, Professor and Section Chief of Medicine (Gastroenterology); investigator at the Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development Center for Innovations; and member of the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor. “Although the absolute risk for [hepatocellular carcinoma] in [nonalcoholic fatty liver disease] patients is low, it is still higher than the accepted threshold for [hepatocellular carcinoma] screening in the subset with established cirrhosis of the liver.”

Dr. Kanwal and colleagues found that patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease who had developed cirrhosis of the liver had the highest incidence annually of hepatocellular carcinoma; that the risk for hepatocellular carcinoma increased with age; and that older Hispanics with cirrhosis were at the highest risk for hepatocellular carcinoma.

The findings of this study also provide guidance as to monitoring and risk modification efforts for those at increased risk for liver cancer—such as those with cirrhosis or diabetes—and in particular demographic subgroups.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


Advertisement

Advertisement



Advertisement

By continuing to browse this site you permit us and our partners to place identification cookies on your browser and agree to our use of cookies to identify you for marketing. Read our Privacy Policy to learn more.