While curing hepatitis C virus (HCV) considerably lowers the risk of liver cancer, the threat remains elevated. Publishing their findings in the journal Hepatology, researchers conducted a retrospective cohort study of data from the Veterans Affairs Hepatitis C Clinical Case Registry, looking at 33,005 individuals treated for the virus between October 1999 and August 2009 and factoring in follow-up through December 2010.

A total of 10,817 individuals in the cohort were cured of hep C. Among this group, 100 developed a new case of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC, the most common form of liver cancer) during 30,562 cumulative years of follow-up. This meant that 0.33 percent of those cured developed liver cancer each year.

The liver cancer rate was 1.39 percent per year among those with cirrhosis and 0.95 percent per year among those cured after age 64. Those with diabetes had a 1.88-fold increased likelihood of developing liver cancer following a hep C cure compared with those without diabetes.

The researchers concluded that “[o]lder age and/or presence of cirrhosis at the time of [a hep C cure] are associated with a high enough risk [of HCC] to warrant surveillance.”

To read the study abstract, click here.