High incidence of #hepatocellular carcinoma and #cirrhotic complications in patients with psychiatric illness: a territory-wide cohort study

Because of high-risk behaviours, sedentary lifestyle and side effects of medications, psychiatric patients are at risk of viral hepatitis, alcohol-related liver disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. We aimed to study the incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and cirrhotic complications in psychiatric patients..

..We included 105,763 psychiatric patients without prior liver-related events in the final analysis. During a median (interquartile range) follow-up of 12.4 (11.0–13.7) years, 1461 (1.4%) patients developed liver-related events; 472 (0.4%) patients developed HCC. Compared with the general population, psychiatric patients had increased incidence of HCC (SIR 1.42, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.28–1.57, P < 0.001).

The SIR was highest in patients with drug-induced (SIR 3.18, 95% CI 2.41–4.11, P < 0.001) and alcohol-induced mental disorders (SIR 2.98, 95% CI 2.30–3.81, P < 0.001), but was also increased in patients with psychotic disorders (SIR 1.39, 95% CI 1.16–1.65, P < 0.001) and mood disorders (SIR 1.16, 95% CI 1.00–1.34, P = 0.047). Liver disease was the fifth most common cause of death in this population, accounting for 595 of 10,614 (5.6%) deaths. Importantly, 569 (38.9%) patients were not known to have liver diseases at the time of liver-related events.

The median age at HCC diagnosis (61 [range 26–83] years) was older and the median overall survival (8.0 [95% CI 5.0–10.9] months) after HCC diagnosis was shorter in this cohort of psychiatric patients than other reports from Hong Kong.

HCC, cirrhotic complications, and liver-related deaths are common in psychiatric patients, but liver diseases are often undiagnosed. More efforts are needed to identify liver diseases in the psychiatric population so that treatments and screening for HCC and varices can be provided to patients in need.