BackgroundHepatitis C virus is the leading cause of liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma in Japan. We aimed to examine the long-term (> 20 years) mortality and hepatocellular carcinoma rates and associated risk factors in 1412 Japanese patients with decompensated hepatitis C virus-related cirrhosis (Child–Pugh B or C).MethodsCumulative survival and hepatocellular carcinoma rates were determined using Kaplan–Meier analysis. Independent risk factors were identified by multivariate analysis. A two-tailed P-value of < 0.05 was considered significant.ResultsThe patients were followed up for a median of 2 years (range 0.5–24.2 years). In total, 62.3%, 41.7%, 4.7%, and 68.3% of the patients had a history of hepatocellular carcinoma, ascites, hepatic encephalopathy, and esophageal varices, respectively. The 1-, 5-, 10-, and 20-year cumulative overall survival rates in the total cohort was 74.9%, 29.0%, 9.1%, and 1.4%, respectively. The 1-, 3-, 5-, and 10-year cumulative survival rates for patients without hepatocellular carcinoma were 93.1%, 54.4%, 18.2%, and 4.0%, respectively, and the corresponding cumulative post-decompensation hepatocellular carcinoma rates were 14.0%, 31.6%, 46.1%, and 66.2%, respectively. The independent risk factors for mortality were older age, Child–Pugh C cirrhosis, the presence of hepatocellular carcinoma, low estimated glomerular filtration rate, low serum sodium level, low platelet count, and high γ-glutamyl transferase and α-fetoprotein levels for all patients and older age, Child–Pugh C cirrhosis, and low estimated glomerular filtration rate for patients without hepatocellular carcinoma. Overall, 1035 patients (73.3%) died; the causes of death were liver failure with/without hepatocellular carcinoma, pneumonia, sepsis, cardiovascular disease, and non-hepatocellular carcinoma malignancies. The corresponding morality rates per person-year were 133.4, 59.9, 10.9, 10.6, 9.0, and 5.2, respectively.ConclusionsAmong Japanese patients with decompensated hepatitis C virus-related cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma is associated with poor prognosis. Our results highlight the importance of managing liver-related events, including hepatocellular carcinoma, in these patients.