Risk factors for intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma: a possible role of hepatitis B virus

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SUMMARY.There are several established risk factors for intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC), namely primary sclerosing cholangitis, fibropolycystic liver disease, parasitic infection, intrahepatic biliary stones and chemical carcinogen exposure. However, the majority of patients with ICC do not have any of these risk factors. Therefore, identification of other risk factors is warranted for the prevention and early detection of ICC. We evaluated the risk factors for ICC in a large-scale cohort study in the province of Osaka, Japan. This retrospective cohort study included 154,814 apparently healthy individual blood donors, aged 40–64 years at the time of blood donation in the period 1991–1993. The average observation period was 7.6 years, resulting in 1.25 million person-years of observation. Incident ICC cases were identified by linking the blood-donor database to the records in the population-based cancer registry for the province. There were 11 incident ICC cases during follow-up, with an incidence rate of 0.88 per 100 000 person-years. Compared with subjects aged 40–49 years, the subjects aged 50–54 years and 55–59 years had a significantly higher risk for ICC (hazard ratio [HR] = 5.90; 95%CI:1.08–32.31 and 11.07; 95%CI:1.98–61.79, respectively). Compared with those with ALT level of 19 Karmen Units (KU) or less, subjects with ALT level of 40 KU or higher had a significantly higher risk for ICC (HR: 8.30; 95%CI:1.47–46.83). Compared with those who tested negative for both HBsAg and anti-HCV, those who tested HBsAg-positive had a significantly higher risk for ICC (HR: 8.56; 95%CI: 1.33–55.20). Our results suggest that HBV infection and liver inflammation are independently associated with ICC development. These findings need to be verified by further large cohort studies.

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