Objectives: The association between viral hepatitis (B and C) and oral cavity cancer has been widely debated. This nationwide, population-based cohort study assessed the subsequent risk of oral cavity cancer among patients with chronic viral hepatitis infection. Materials and Methods: Data were retrieved from insurance claims data of 1,000,000 randomly sampled individuals covered under the Taiwan National Health Insurance system. We identified a total of 21,199 adults with chronic viral hepatitis infection (12,369 with HBV alone, 5,311 with HCV alone, and 3,519 with HBV/HCV dual infections) from 2000-2005. Comparison group comprised 84,796 sex- and age-matched subjects without viral hepatitis during the same study period. Incidence and risk of subsequent oral cavity cancer were measured until 2008. Results: The incidence of oral cavity cancers was 2.28-fold higher among patients with HCV alone than non-viral hepatitis group (6.15 versus 2.69 per 10,000 person-years). After adjusting for sociodemographic covariates, HCV alone was significantly associated with an increased risk for oral cavity cancer (hazard ratio (HR) = 1.90, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.20-3.02). This positive association was highest among individuals in the 40-49-year age group (HR = 2.57, 95% CI = 1.21-5.46). However, there were no significant associations between HBV alone or HBV/HCV dual infections and risk for oral cavity cancer. Conclusion: Our data suggest that HCV but not HBV infection is a risk factor for oral cavity cancer. In addition, subjects with HCV infection tend to be at early onset risk for oral cavity cancer. This finding needs to be replicated in further studies.
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