Nav: Home

Antiviral therapy may halve risk of liver cancer after chronic hepatitis C infection

October 22, 2012

Treating chronic hepatitis C infection with antiviral drugs could halve the risk of developing the most common form of liver cancer, in some cases, indicates an analysis of the published research in one of the new BMJ Open Editions.*

Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common form of liver cancer worldwide, accounting for 90 per cent of all primary cases of the disease. Cirrhosis of the liver and hepatitis C infection are among the most important risk factors.

The authors reviewed the published evidence on the use of antiviral therapy--interferon or pegylated interferon, or ribavirin, or a combination--in people with chronic hepatitis C infection, to assess its impact, and to see if the level of viral clearance, prompted by the treatment, made any difference.

In some people, antiviral treatment helps the body clear the virus; in others an initial response is followed by a relapse a few months later. If treatment succeeds in keeping the virus at bay for 6 months, the chances of relapse are miniscule.

The authors reviewed the data from 8 comparative treatment trials of those whose hepatitis C infection had resulted in chronic inflammation and fibrosis (gristle) or cirrhosis (scarring and limited working capacity) of the liver.

And they also included data from 5 prospective cohort studies, which regularly monitor similar groups of people over the long term to see what happens to them.

In all, more than 3200 people were included in the analysis. Their treatment, which was predominantly interferon, lasted between 6 months and a year, and they were monitored for periods of between 5 and 8 years.

In the trials, a total of 1156 people were treated with antiviral therapy, 81 of whom developed liver cancer; and 1174 were not, 129 of whom developed the disease--equivalent to a reduction in risk of 47 per cent.

Those in whom treatment cleared the virus, long term, were 85 per cent less likely to develop liver cancer compared with those in whom treatment was less effective. Nevertheless this group were still 43 per cent less likely to develop liver cancer.

The observational (cohort) study data also showed that antiviral therapy curbed the risk of liver cancer by around 70 per cent compared with those not given the treatment.

The authors caution that the length of monitoring and the lack of information on death rates could mean that treatment with interferon may simply delay, rather than prevent, liver cancer in infected patients.

But they point out that standard treatment now consists of interferon plus ribavirin, which is deemed more effective, and that the infection tends to be picked up earlier before it has had time to do wreak long term damage.
-end-
[Antiviral therapy for prevention of hepatocellular carcinoma in chronic hepatitis C: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials doi 10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001313]

BMJ

Related Hepatitis Articles:

Nanotechnology delivers hepatitis B vaccine
X-ray imaging shows that nanostructured silica acts as a protective vehicle to deliver intact antigen to the intestine so that it can trigger an immune response.
Checkmate for hepatitis B viruses in the liver
Researchers at Helmholtz Zentrum M√ľnchen and the Technical University of Munich, working in collaboration with researchers at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf and the University Hospital Heidelberg, have for the first time succeeded in conquering a chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus in a mouse model.
How common is Hepatitis C infection in each US state?
Hepatitis C virus infection is a major cause of illness and death in the United States and injection drug use is likely fueling many new cases.
New strains of hepatitis C found in Africa
The largest population study of hepatitis C in Africa has found three new strains of the virus circulating in the general population in sub-Saharan Africa.
High stability of the hepatitis B virus
At room temperature, hepatitis B viruses (HBV) remain contagious for several weeks and they are even able to withstand temperatures of four degrees centigrade over the span of nine months.
Findings could lead to treatment of hepatitis B
Researchers have gained new insights into the virus that causes hepatitis B -- a life-threatening and incurable infection that afflicts more than 250 million people worldwide.
How to cure more hepatitis C patients
The cost of cures for hepatitis C have been prohibitive, but experts who served on an NAS panel have a solution that will save more patients and incentivize drug innovation.
Hepatitis C: A novel point-of-care assay
One of the major challenges identified by the WHO in efforts to eradicate the hepatitis C virus is the diagnosis of chronic cases that are generally asymptomatic.
Countries risk 'running out' of hepatitis C patients to treat, says World Hepatitis Alliance
The latest data on the global hepatitis C epidemic, released today at the World Hepatitis Summit in Sao Paulo, Brazil, reveal that most countries (especially high-income countries) are running out of patients to treat because of the low diagnosis rates worldwide.
Australia currently on track to eliminate hepatitis C by 2030, but challenges remain for hepatitis B
New data released at this year's World Hepatitis Summit in Sao Paulo, Brazil, shows that Australia is currently on track to eliminate hepatitis C thanks to its huge efforts to enable population-wide access to treatment.
More Hepatitis News and Hepatitis Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.