Causes and risk factors
Updated: October 29, 2005
Hepatitis B virus
High titres of HBsAg and HBcAb are frequently found in
patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. The close geographic
relationship between hepatitis B incidence and hepatocellular
carcinoma rates is well recognized. In endemic areas of HCC is
increased 140 fold in HBsAg carriers. Anti-HBcAb was found in the
serum of up to 90% of cases in the Far East.
Hepatocellular carcinoma is associated with cirrhosis in 50% to 80% of
patients, alcoholism being the most common cause of hepatic cirrhosis. While 5% of cirrhotic patients eventually develop hepatocellular cancer, which is
Aflatoxin has also been implicated as a factor in the etiology of
primary liver cancer in parts of the world where this mycotoxin
occurs in high levels in ingested food.
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- Oral contraceptive use for 8 or more years is associated
with increased risk of HCC.
- Cigarette smoking, alcohol intake, diabetes and insulin
intake appear to be significant risk factors.
- Mutations of p53 tumor suppressor gene have been reported in
50% of the cases.
- Workers who were exposed to vinyl chloride before controls on
vinyl chloride dust were instituted developed sarcomas in the liver,
most commonly angiosarcomas.