• hepatocellular carcinoma;
  • curative resection;
  • pegylated interferon;
  • recurrence;
  • metastatic tumor antigen 1;
  • adjuvant therapy


Metastatic tumor antigen 1 (MTA1) overexpression is closely associated with postoperative recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). It has been suggested that pegylated interferon (Peg-IFN) can prevent the occurrence of HCC in patients who have chronic viral hepatitis. In this study, the authors examined whether postoperative adjuvant Peg-IFN therapy can reduce the recurrence of MTA1-positive HCC after curative surgical resection.


In this case-control study, 93 patients with MTA1-positive HCC who underwent curative surgical resection were prospectively enrolled. The median patient age was 53 years (range, 27-78); there were 65 men and 28 women; the etiology was hepatitis B virus (HBV) in 77 patients, hepatitis C virus (HCV) in 6 patients, and non-HBV/non-HCV in 10 patients; 31 patients received Peg-IFN (Peg-INTRON®) subcutaneously at a dose of 50 μg per week for 12 months (the Peg-IFN group); and the remaining 62 patients were followed only and did not receive any adjuvant therapies (control group). Patients were followed every 1 to 3 months for a median of 24 months.


HCC recurred postoperatively in 26 of 93 patients (28%), and 9 patients (10%) died during follow-up. The overall cumulative recurrence rates were significantly lower in the Peg-IFN group than in the control group (7% and 14% vs 24% and 34% at 1 year and 2 years, respectively; P < .05). In addition, the 1-year and 2-year cumulative survival rates were higher in the Peg-IFN group compared with the control group (100% vs 93% and 100% vs 87%, respectively; P < .05). In multivariate analysis, the receipt of adjuvant Peg-IFN therapy, in addition to having a lower Cancer of the Liver Italian Program score and being a woman, was an independent, favorable factor for a lower risk of postoperative recurrence.


The current data indicate that adjuvant Peg-IFN therapy may reduce the recurrence of HCC in patients who have MTA1-positive HCC after curative surgical resection. Cancer 2013;119:2239–2246. © 2013 American Cancer Society.