Factors Associated with Unrecognized Cirrhosis in Patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma.
BACKGROUND: Cirrhosis is the most important risk factor of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), and patients with cirrhosis are recommended to receive semiannual surveillance for early HCC detection. However, early cirrhosis is often asymptomatic and can go undiagnosed for years, leading to underuse of HCC surveillance in clinical practice. We characterized the frequency and associated factors of unrecognized cirrhosis in a national sample of patients with HCC from the United States. METHODS: HCC patients aged 68 years and older, diagnosed during 2011 to 2015 were included from the SEER-Medicare Linked Database. If cirrhosis was diagnosed within 6 months immediately preceding HCC diagnosis or after HCC diagnosis, cases were categorized as unrecognized cirrhosis. Factors associated with unrecognized cirrhosis were identified using logistic regression analyses. Factors associated with overall survival were evaluated using Cox regression analyses. RESULTS: Among 5,098 HCC patients, 74.8% patients had cirrhosis. Among those with cirrhosis, 57.4% had unrecognized cirrhosis, with the highest proportion (76.3%) among those with NAFLD-related HCC. Male sex (aOR: 2.12, 95% CI: 1.83-2.46), non-Hispanic Black race (aOR:1.93, 95%CI: 1.45-2.57), and NAFLD etiology (aOR:4.46, 95% CI:3.68-5.41) were associated with having unrecognized cirrhosis. Among NAFLD-related HCC patients, male sex (aOR:2.32, 95% CI:1.71-3.14) was associated with unrecognized cirrhosis. Unrecognized cirrhosis was independently associated with worse overall survival (aHR:1.17, 95% CI:1.08-1.27) compared to recognized cirrhosis. CONCLUSION: Unrecognized cirrhosis is common in NAFLD-related HCC, particularly among male and Black patients, highlighting these groups as important intervention targets to improve HCC surveillance uptake and outcomes.