High Rates of Hepatocellular Carcinoma After Hepatitis C Treatment

By Will Boggs MD

February 08, 2017

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Patients treated with direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy for hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related cirrhosis appear to have high rates of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

"If these findings are confirmed from other centers, studies are suggested to examine mechanisms of these findings," Dr. Ashwani Singal from University of Alabama at Birmingham told Reuters Health by email.

Some studies have shown unexpectedly high HCC recurrence rates after DAA therapy, whereas others have shown no such association.

Dr. Singal and colleagues examined the occurrence of de novo HCC in their retrospective study of 66 patients with HCV-related cirrhosis who received DAA between 2015 and 2016.

Typically, patients with HCV cirrhosis have an HCC incidence of 3%-5% per year, the researchers say.

But six of these patients (9.1%) developed HCC during or within six months after treatment, and two additional patients (3%) developed indeterminate liver lesions, according to their letter online February 1st in Gastroenterology.

They note that another study showed a reduced risk of HCC occurrence among DAA-treated patients who achieved sustained viral responses (SVR) versus those not achieving SVR, so they suggest prospective multicenter studies to confirm these findings.

"Be aware of this potential issue and consider more intensive HCC surveillance of HCV cirrhotics during and after HCV therapy," Dr. Singal concluded.

Dr. Gaetano Serviddio from University of Foggia, Italy, who has reported on the outcomes of DAA therapy, told Reuters Health by email, "DAAs have completely changed the prognosis of chronic hepatitis C patients who have a unique possibility to be cured definitively. To discover that such drugs have some tumor risks is particularly terrible. In any case, the number of events is small, and the data are not enough to support the hypothesis that the risk is directly related to the drugs."

"DAAs are safe and powerful drugs; millions of lives will be saved with such drugs," he said. "Studies should be supported to completely define patients at risk of HCC recurrence."

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/2lmDbXa

Gastroenterol 2017.

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