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Abstract

Current guidelines for treatment of chronic hepatitis B include hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) status, levels of hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA, and serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) values in the setting of either chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis. Based on findings from a prospective study of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-positive patients, we determined whether these guidelines included patients who developed hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and who died of non-HCC liver-related complications. The criteria for treatment from four published guidelines were matched to a cohort of 369 HBsAg-positive patients enrolled in the study. During a mean follow-up of 84 months, 30 patients developed HCC and 37 died of non-HCC liver-related deaths. Using criteria for antiviral therapy as stated by the four guidelines, only 20%-60% of the patients who developed HCC, and 27%-70% of patients who died of non-HCC liver-related deaths would have been identified for antiviral therapy according to current treatment recommendations. If baseline serum albumin levels of 3.5 mg/dL or less or platelet counts of 130,000 mm3 or less were added to criteria from the four treatment guidelines, then 89%-100% of patients who died of non-HCC liver-related complications, and 96%-100% of patients who developed HCC would have been identified for antiviral therapy. In addition, if basal core promoter T1762/A1764 mutants and precore A1896 mutants also were included, then 100% of patients who developed HCC would have been identified for treatment. Conclusion: This retrospective analysis showed that the current treatment guidelines for chronic hepatitis B excluded patients who developed serious liver-related complications. (HEPATOLOGY 2008.)