Hepatitis C is a long term viral disease that damages the liver. It has been suspected that individuals with hepatitis C infection could be at an increased risk of cancers of the blood or lymph system. To test this hypothesis, nearly a 150,000 individuals in the US Veteran Affairs healthcare system suffering from hepatitis C infection were compared with 4 times the number of patients not infected by the virus. The incidence of a number of disorders of the blood or the lymph system were compared beween the two groups by a group of researchers in Houston, Texas.
The findings revealed that individuals infected with hepatitis C had a 20-30% higher chance of developing lymphoma compared to those not infected by the virus. These individuals also had a significantly higher chance of developing another slow growing disease of the lymph system - Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia. The risk of leukemias was not increased. These findings suggest the possibilty that hepatitis C infection could cause NHL and a few other disorders of the lymph system.