Metabolic-associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD) is a major cause of liver-related complications, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). While MAFLD-related HCC is known to occur in the absence of cirrhosis, our understanding of MAFLD-related HCC in this setting is limited. Here, we characterize MAFLD-related HCC and the impact of cirrhosis and screening on survival. This was a multicenter, retrospective, cohort study of MAFLD-related HCC. MAFLD was defined based on the presence of race-adjusted overweight, diabetes, or both hypertension and dyslipidemia in the absence of excess alcohol use or other underlying cause of liver disease. The primary outcome of interest was overall survival, and the primary dependent variables were cirrhosis status and prior HCC screening. We used Kaplan-Meier methods to estimate overall survival and Cox proportional hazards models and random forest machine learning to determine factors associated with prognosis. This study included 1,382 patients from 11 centers in the United States and East/Southeast Asia. Cirrhosis was present in 62% of patients, but under half of these patients had undergone imaging within 12 months of HCC diagnosis. Patients with cirrhosis were more likely to have early stage disease but less often received curative therapy. After adjustment, cirrhosis was not associated with prognosis, but the presence of cancer-related symptoms at diagnosis was associated with poorer prognosis. Conclusion: Cirrhosis was not associated with overall survival in this cohort of MAFLD-related HCC, while diagnosis in the presence of symptoms was associated with poorer prognosis. The HCC surveillance rate in patients with MAFLD-related HCC was disappointingly low in a multicenter cohort.
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