Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Modelling the impact of improving screening and treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus infection on future hepatocellular carcinoma rates and liver-related mortality

Matthew E Cramp1, William M Rosenberg2, Steven D Ryder3*, Sarah Blach4 and Julie Parkes5

Author Affiliations

1 Hepatology Research Group, Peninsula Medical School and Hepatology Department, South West Liver Unit, Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, UK

2 Institute for Liver and Digestive Health, Division of Medicine, University College London, Royal Free Campus, Rowland Hill Street, London NW3 2PF, UK

3 NIHR Biomedical Research Unit in Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and The University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK

4 Center for Disease Analysis, Louisville, CO 80027, USA

5 Public Health Sciences and Medical Statistics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK

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BMC Gastroenterology 2014, 14:137  doi:10.1186/1471-230X-14-137

Published: 7 August 2014



The societal, clinical and economic burden imposed by the complications of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection - including cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) - is expected to increase over the coming decades. However, new therapies may improve sustained virological response (SVR) rates and shorten treatment duration. This study aimed to estimate the future burden of HCV-related disease in England if current management strategies remain the same and the impact of increasing diagnosis and treatment of HCV as new therapies become available.


A previously published model was adapted for England using published literature and government reports, and validated through an iterative process of three meetings of HCV experts. The impact of increasing diagnosis and treatment of HCV as new therapies become available was modelled and compared to the base-case scenario of continuing current management strategies. To assess the ‘best case’ clinical benefit of new therapies, the number of patients treated was increased by a total of 115% by 2018.


In the base-case scenario, total viraemic (HCV RNA-positive) cases of HCV in England will decrease from 144,000 in 2013 to 76,300 in 2030. However, due to the slow progression of chronic HCV, the number of individuals with cirrhosis, decompensated cirrhosis and HCC will continue to increase over this period. The model suggests that the ‘best case’ substantially reduces HCV-related hepatic disease and HCV-related liver mortality by 2020 compared to the base-case scenario. The number of HCV-related HCC cases would decrease 50% by 2020 and the number progressing from infection to decompensated cirrhosis would decline by 65%. Therefore, compared to projections of current practices, increasing treatment numbers by 115% by 2018 would reduce HCV-related mortality by 50% by 2020.


This analysis suggests that with current treatment practices the number of patients developing HCV-related cirrhosis, decompensated cirrhosis and HCC will increase substantially, with HCV-related liver deaths likely to double by 2030. However, increasing diagnosis and treatment rates could optimise the reduction in the burden of disease produced by the new therapies, potentially halving HCV-related liver mortality and HCV-related HCC by 2020.

Hepatitis C virus; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Cirrhosis; Decompensated cirrhosis