The existence of an association between infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) and B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (B-NHL) remains controversial, largely because previous studies were based on prevalent case series or comparisons with less than optimal control groups. This hospital-based case-control study was conducted from January 1998 through February 2001 to evaluate the association between HCV infection and B-NHL of different types. Cases were consecutive patients with a new diagnosis of B-NHL; controls were patients from other departments of the same hospitals. Both groups were interviewed using a standardized questionnaire. The prevalence of HCV infection was calculated by histologic type of B-NHL and clinical behavior (indolent or aggressive). Adjusted odds ratio (OR) and HCV-attributable risk (AR) were estimated. HCV prevalence was 17.5% among the 400 lymphoma patients and 5.6% among the 396 controls. The OR of B-NHL (patients vs controls), adjusted by age, sex, level of education, and place of birth, was 3.1 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.8-5.2); an OR indicative of positive association was found for indolent and aggressive B-NHL. The estimated AR was 4.6%. This study confirms an association between HCV and B-NHL. In Italy, 1 of 20 instances of B-NHL may be attributable to HCV infection and may, thus, benefit from antiviral treatment.
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