Hepatitis C virus and hepatocellular carcinoma

Massimo Colombo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is pathogenetically involved in many cases of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) worldwide. HCV-related HCC is on the rise in many developed countries as a consequence of past infections with HCV. The time lag between HCV infection and cancer development is several decades. HCV-related tumors arise in older patients, are almost invariably associated with cirrhosis, and often have a less aggressive course than HCC related to other etiologic factors. In most patients, HCC grows as a single hepatic node for years before generating satellite or distant tumor nodes. However, there are tumors that originate as multifocal disease. Tumor progression and hepatic failure are the leading causes of death in most patients. HCV has been almost invariably detected in tumor tissue of anti-HCV patients with HCC, but it is not clear whether the virus promotes cancer through chronic hepatocellular inflammation, which is per se an important risk factor for HCC, or has a direct role in liver carcinogenesis. No reverse transcriptase activity has been found in infected livers, but there are data suggesting that HCV has oncogenic properties, because its interacts with cellular genes regulating cell growth and differentiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-269
Number of pages7
JournalSeminars in Liver Disease
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Cirrhosis
  • Hepatitis C virus
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology


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