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Liver Cancer Profile Differs in Black Patients With Hep C

THURSDAY, Feb. 25, 2021 -- Black patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection develop hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) at an earlier disease stage and have better liver function at the time of diagnosis, according to a study published online Feb. 25 in Cancer.

Tali Shaltiel, M.D., from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, and colleagues retrospectively reviewed records of patients with HCV and HCC from 2003 to 2018. Imaging, laboratory, and pathologic features were compared between Black and non-Black patients; 390 of the 1,195 individuals with HCC identified as Black.

The researchers found that Black patients had better liver function at the time of HCC diagnosis, as measured by the Child-Pugh score, Model of End-Stage Liver Disease score, histology of nontumor tissue, and fibrosis-4 (FIB-4) score; in 31 percent of Black patients, FIB-4 scores were <3.25. Black patients also had less early-stage HCC (20.2 versus 32.3 percent), and they had larger tumors (median, 3.5 versus 3.1 cm) and more multiple tumors. For Black patients, tumors were more poorly differentiated (30.3 versus 20.5 percent) and there was more microvascular invasion (67.2 versus 56.5 percent).

"These findings provide a foundation for designing studies to define the molecular signature(s) of HCC in Black individuals and to identify any mutations or subtype that may guide targeted treatment," the authors write.

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