Liver Cancer in Atomic-bomb Survivors: Histological Characteristics and Relationships to Radiation and Hepatitis B and C Viruses

Department of Pathology, Hiroshima Prefectural Hospital, Japan.
Journal of Radiation Research (Impact Factor: 1.8). 07/2001; 42(2):117-30. DOI: 10.1269/jrr.42.117
Source: PubMed


Histological features of primary liver cancer among atomic-bomb survivors and their relationship to hepatitis B (HBV) and C viral (HCV) infections are of special interest because of the increased risk of liver cancer in persons exposed to ionizing radiation and the high and increasing liver cancer rates in Japan and elsewhere. We conducted a pathology review of liver cancers occurring from 1958 to 1987 among subjects in the 120,321 member cohort of 1945 Hiroshima and Nagasaki residents. A panel of pathologists classified tumor histological types and defined accompanying cirrhotic changes of the liver. Archival tissue samples were assessed for HBV using pathology stains and PCR. Reverse transcriptase (RT) PCR was used to determine HCV status. We used unconditional logistic regression to compare 302 hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cases to 53 cholangiocarcinoma (CC) cases, adjusting for age, year of diagnosis, sex and viral status. Cirrhotic changes occurred significantly more often among HCC than CC cases (76% in HCC and 6% in CC). Compared to CC cases, HCC cases were 10.9 times more likely to be HBV-positive (95% confidence interval: 2.1-83.2) and 4.3 times more likely to be HCV-positive (95% confidence interval: 1.1-20.5). No significant differences were found between HCC and CC cases in radiation exposures. The predominance of HCC in the atomic-bomb survivors follows the background liver cancer pattern in Japan. Our findings suggest that HBV and HCV are involved in the pathogenesis of HCC with or without cirrhosis and are significantly less important in that of CC.

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