The long-term risk for hepatocellular carcinoma among patients with hepatitis C remains up to 8 years after sustained virological response to antiviral therapy, researchers reported in Clinical Infectious Diseases.
“The number of patients with cancer was too low to draw any firm conclusion, but it was nevertheless somewhat surprising that the risk remained for such a prolonged time period,” Soo Aleman, MD, PhD, of the departments of gastroenterology and hepatology and infectious diseases at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, told Infectious Disease News.
“We need to know how long this risk persists and which subgroups of patients are at the highest risk after achieving sustained virological response (SVR). Future studies are needed to answer these questions.”
Aleman and colleagues conducted a prospective study that included patients who had HCV-related cirrhosis. Among the 351 patients, 110 reached SVR, 193 did not and 48 were untreated. The study was initiated in 2001 and the patients were followed for a mean of 5.3 years.
Six patients who achieved SVR developed hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), for an incidence of 1 per 100 person-years. Two patients were diagnosed within a year after achieving SVR at 0.5 and 7.7 months, and the remaining four were diagnosed at 2.4, 7.4, 7.4 and 7.6 years. All of the patients were tested for HCV RNA at HCC diagnosis, and all were negative.
Among patients who did not achieve SVR or who were untreated, the risk for HCC was higher. The risk for any liver-related complication, liver-related death or overall death was lower among patients who achieved SVR. These differences were similar after controlling for alcohol use, age, sex and diabetes.
“Patients who have liver cirrhosis prior to the eradication of HCV should continue to undergo surveillance with ultrasound regularly for early detection of hepatocellular carcinoma,” Aleman said.
Soo Aleman, MD, PhD, can be reached at Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, and Infectious Diseases, Karolinska University Hospital at Karolinska Institute, 171 76 Stockholm, Sweden; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclosure: Aleman reports financial relationships with Gilead, Janssen, MSD and Roche.