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2001 | 49 | 2 suppl. | 65-74

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Chronic hepatitis C virus infection and the pathogenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma


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There is a strong epidemiologic relationship between chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), although the cellular and molecular mechanisms of tumor formation remain to be firmly established. Clearly, HCV is associated with the development of chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis, so that it may contribute to hepatocarcinogenesis as a consequence of its central role in the appearance and progression of necroinflammatory liver disease. There is also increasing evidence for a direct contribution of several HCV gene products to the development of the transformed phenotype, although none of the putative mechanisms involved in tumor formation have been strongly supported by in vivo evidence. Even if HCV is not shown to be a complete carcinogen, it may act as a cocarcinogen with underlying (serologically negative) hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, in the context of alcoholic cirrhosis, and in patients with long term exposure to chemical hepatocarcinogens such as aflatoxin B1.




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Feitelson M. Department of Pathology, Anatomy and Cell Biology, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Kimmel Cancer Center Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA


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