BACKGROUND: The complications to chronic hepatitis B (HBV) include incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and mortality. The risk of these complications may vary in different patient groups.
AIM: To estimate the incidence and predictors of HCC and in untreated HBV patients.
METHODS: Systematic review with random effects meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials and observational studies. Results are expressed as annual incidence (events per 100 person-years) with 95% confidence intervals. Subgroup and sensitivity analyses of patient and study characteristics were performed to identify common risk factors.
RESULTS: We included 68 trials and studies with a total of 27,584 patients (264,919 person-years). In total, 1,285 of 26,687 (5%) patients developed HCC and 730 of 12,511 (6%) patients died. The annual incidence was 0.88 (95% CI, 0.76-0.99) for HCC and 1.26 (95% CI, 1.01-1.51) for mortality. Patients with cirrhosis had a higher risk of HCC (incidence 3.16; 95% CI, 2.58-3.74) than patients without cirrhosis (0.10; 95% CI, 0.02-0.18). The risk of dying was also higher for patients with than patients without cirrhosis (4.89; 95% CI, 3.16-6.63; and 0.11; 95% CI, 0.09-0.14). The risk of developing HCC increased with HCV coinfection, older age and inflammatory activity. The country of origin did not clearly predict HCC or mortality estimates.
CONCLUSIONS: Cirrhosis was the strongest predictor of HCC incidence and mortality. Patients with HBV cirrhosis have a 31-fold increased risk of HCC and a 44-fold increased mortality compared to non-cirrhotic patients. The low incidence rates should be taken into account when considering HCC screening in non-cirrhotic patients.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: Prospero CRD42013004764.