Hemoglobinopathies, Iron Overload and Chronic Viral Hepatitis in Patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Myanmar


To assess the relevance of altered iron metabolism, hemoglobin electrophoresis by isoelectric focusing was performed ‍for 16 cases of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) from the Liver Unit, Yangon General Hospital. Serum iron, total ‍iron binding capacity, serum ferritin and free iron were also determined. Hemoglobin A (HbA) was found in all of ‍the cases. Four cases had one extra band, hemoglobin A2 in three cases, and hemoglobin F in one case. No abnormal ‍hemoglobin was detected. Anemias due to chronic disorders or associated with liver disease were observed in all of ‍the cases. Iron overload was documented in 83% and free iron was detected in all cases. Viral markers like HBsAg, ‍AntiHBc, and AntiHCV singly or in combination were found in all cases. HCC occurring at young age was seen in ‍this study; the youngest patient was 23 years old and four cases (25%) were under 40 years, with a mean age of 49 ‍years. The findings support the hypothesis that free iron and iron overload is a potential promoter of the development ‍of HCC, especially if underlying chronic viral infection is present.