1Division of Gastroenterology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington. Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2Division of Gastroenterology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
3Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
4Division of Gastroenterology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington; Division of Gastroenterology, Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, Washington.
Background & aims: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) eradication with direct-acting antivirals reduces hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) risk. Pooled HCC incidence rates by cirrhosis status and fibrosis stage have not been estimated using meta-analysis.
Methods: We searched PubMed, Web of Science, Embase, and Cochrane Library from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2020 to identify studies assessing HCC incidence or outcomes by cirrhosis status, in adults with HCV who achieved sustained virologic response (SVR) after direct-acting antivirals. Pooled estimates were obtained using random-effects modeling. Subgroup, sensitivity, and meta-regression analyses were performed to evaluate heterogeneity.
Results: We included 31 studies involving 27,711 patients with cirrhosis (mean follow-up, 2.1 years) and 11 studies involving 32,123 patients without cirrhosis (mean follow-up, 2.6 years). HCC incidence was 2.99/100 person-years (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.52-3.54; I2 = 75%) in patients with cirrhosis, 0.47/100 person-years (95% CI, 0.32-0.70, I2 = 71%) in patients without cirrhosis, and 0.63/100 person-years (95% CI: 0.34-1.20, I2 = 0%) in stage 3 (F3) fibrosis. Among patients with cirrhosis, HCC incidence was highest in studies with <1 year of follow-up (6.17/100 person-years [95% CI, 3.73-10.19]) and progressively lower in studies with longer follow-up (1-2 years: 2.75/100 person-years [95% CI, 2.48-3.06]; 2-3 years: 2.90/100 person-years [95% CI, 1.90-4.44]; ≥3 years: 1.83/100 person-years [95% CI, 0.88-3.80]).
Conclusion: Pooled HCC incidence after SVR in patients with cirrhosis was very high (2.99/100 person-years) but may be declining as longer time accrues after SVR. In patients without cirrhosis, including F3 fibrosis, HCC incidence was lower than thresholds associated with cost-effective HCC screening. In patients with F3 fibrosis, the lack of between-study heterogeneity provides strong evidence that HCC screening may not be warranted.