Hepatocellular carcinoma and the penetrance of HFE C282Y mutations: a cross sectional study

Gavin Willis, Vicky Bardsley, Ian W. Fellows, Roy Lonsdale, Jennie Z. Wimperis, Barbara A. Jennings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Although most patients with hereditary haemochromatosis have HFE C282Y mutations, the lifetime risk to HFE C282Y homozygotes of developing fatal diseases such as hepatocellular carcinoma is uncertain. We have carried out a cross-sectional study to determine the proportion of diagnosed hepatocellular carcinoma patients who are homozygous for the HFE C282Y mutation; and to estimate the penetrance of this genotype with respect to hepatocellular carcinoma in East Anglia.

Tissue biopsies were analysed from 144 cases of hepatocellular carcinoma for HFE C282Y mutations; the data produced were compared with the frequency of HFE mutations in a large sample of the local population. Data were also retrieved from the East Anglian Cancer Intelligence Unit to determine the annual incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma; and from appropriate life tables.

Eight out of 144 of the cases were homozygous for the HFE C282Y mutation, all 8 cases were male. 6 of these 8 cases had a previous diagnosis of hereditary haemochromatosis. Male HFE C282Y homozygotes were more likely to be diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma (odds ratio [OR] = 14, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 5–37). For this population, we estimate that the penetrance of the HFE C282Y homozygous genotype, with respect to hepatocellular carcinoma, was between 1.31 % and 2.1% for males and was zero for females.

In this population, we found that only a very small proportion of homozygotes for the HFE C282Y mutation developed hepatocellular carcinoma. However, individuals with this genotype have a significantly increased risk of this rare disease relative to those who do not carry the mutations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number17
JournalBMC Gastroenterology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2005

Cite this