INTRODUCTION: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) can develop among chronic hepatitis B patients after hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) seroclearance. However, whether HCC risk after HBsAg seroclearance differs between antiviral therapy (AVT)-induced or spontaneous seroclearance cases and ways to identify at-risk populations remain unclear. METHODS: A retrospective cohort of 1,200 adult chronic hepatitis B patients who achieved HBsAg seroclearance (median age: 56 years; 824 men; 165 with cirrhosis; 216 AVT-induced cases) were analyzed. The risk of HCC after HBsAg seroclearance and the performance of 6 HCC prediction models were assessed. RESULTS: During a median of 4.8 years of follow-up (range: 0.5-17.8 years), HCC developed in 23 patients (1.9%). The HCC incidence rate was higher in the AVT-induced cases than that in the spontaneous cases (3.9% vs 0.9% at 5 years). AVT and cirrhosis were independent factors associated with HCC, with HCC incidence rates of 0.5%, 1.2%, 4.0%, and 10.5% at 5 years for spontaneous/no-cirrhosis, AVT-induced/no-cirrhosis, spontaneous/cirrhosis, and AVT-induced/cirrhosis patients, respectively. Among the 6 predictive HCC models tested, Chinese University-HCC score (0.82) showed the highest C-statistics, which was followed by guide with age, gender, HBV DNA, core promoter mutations and cirrhosis (0.81). DISCUSSION: AVT-induced HBsAg seroclearance was associated with higher HCC risk, especially for patients with cirrhosis, indicating that they need careful monitoring for HCC risk. The HCC risk models were able to stratify the HCC risk in patients with HBsAg seroclearance.
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Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. on behalf of The American College of Gastroenterology.
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