An analysis was performed of the patients with hepatitis C virus-associated liver cirrhosis (HCV-LC) who never developed hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) for 10 years after the histological diagnosis of LC. Seventy-four consecutive HCV-LC patients of Child stage A were observed for >10 years prospectively for the development of HCC with frequent ultrasonography and magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography. Of the 63 patients who fulfilled the study, 48 patients were treated and 15 were nontreated because of their stable state. They were subdivided into three groups according to their serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels: the high ALT group comprised of 23 patients whose annual average serum ALT level was persistently high (≧80 IU); the low ALT group comprised of 28 patients whose annual average serum ALT level was persistently low (<80 IU), and the unclassified ALT group comprised of 12 patients. In the low ALT group, as high as 71.4% of patients had never developed HCC for 10 years, in contrast to only 17.4% in the high ALT group (p < 0.001). In the 30 patients who never developed HCC for 10 years, 20 patients belonged to the low ALT group, in contrast to only 4 belonging to the high ALT group. Sustained low ALT levels were important to survive for 10 years without developing HCC in the HCV-LC patients of Child stage A.

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