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A Journal on Gastroenterology, Nutrition and Dietetics

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Minerva Gastroenterologica e Dietologica 2005 March;51(1):1-6

language: English

Etiological factor of hepatocellular carcinoma in Italy

Stroffolini T.


Cirrhosis from any cause is present in the majority (93.1%) of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cases in Italy, it seems to be the common pathway by which several risk factors extent their carcinogenic effect. The mortality rate of HCC in Italy has progressively increased during the period 1969-1994, reflecting the rising number of persons living with cirrhosis as consequence of the remarkable advances in medical management of such patients. Most HCC develops in cirrhosis caused by known and preventable risk factors (hepatitis B virus, HBV, hepatitis C virus, HCV, alcohol and possibly non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, NASH). Unlike alcohol and NASH, HBV and HCV chronic infections act as a risk factors for HCC both because they induce cirrhosis and because they increase the risk in patients with cirrhosis. Moreover, case-control and prospective studies have shown a synergistic effect on HCC risk, when both viral infections occur. Currently, HCV infection is detected in the majority (76.4%) of HCC cases in Italy, reflecting the large cohort of subjects infected with this virus via the iatrogenic route during the 1950s and 1960s. The low rate of HCV infection in the younger Italian generations may generate a downward trend in the HCC mortality rate in the years to come.

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