Hepatocellular carcinoma in Australia’s Northern Territory: high incidence and poor outcome

Christopher Parker, Steven Y C Tong, Karen Dempsey, John Condon, Suresh K. Sharma, John W C Chen, William Sievert, Joshua S. Davis

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Objective: To describe the epidemiology, clinical features, management and outcomes of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in the Northern Territory over the past decade.

    Design, setting and patients: An NT-wide epidemiology study covering the period 1991–2010 and a clinical cohort study including patients diagnosed during 2000–2011. HCC diagnoses were provided by the NT Cancer Registry and cross-checked against clinical records.

    Main outcome measures:
     Age-adjusted incidence of HCC; management; clinical features; and median and 1-year survival.

    Results: There were 145 incident cases of HCC in the NT during 1991–2010, giving an age-adjusted annual incidence of 22.7/100 000 (95% CI, 17.2–26.8) for Indigenous Australians and 4.0/100 000 (95% CI, 2.1–5.8) for non-Indigenous Australians — an incidence rate ratio of 5.9 (95% CI, 4.7–7.4). There was no significant change in annual age-adjusted incidence over this period. The most common causative factors were hepatitis B virus in Indigenous people and hepatitis C virus in non-Indigenous people. Most people were diagnosed late, only 13/80 were diagnosed by screening, and outcomes were poor, with 28/80 overall surviving to 1 year. Outcomes were better among those managed through a centralised multidisciplinary service than among those who were not (adjusted hazard ratio for death at 1 year, 0.35 [95% CI, 0.16–0.81]).

    Conclusion: HCC incidence remains high in the Indigenous people of the NT. More resources are needed for HCC surveillance and management programs in this population.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)470-474
    Number of pages5
    JournalMedical Journal of Australia
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2014


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