• chemotherapy;
  • HBV;
  • HBV prophylaxis;
  • hepatitis B reactivation;
  • lamivudine prophylaxis


Background: Hepatitis B viral (HBV) reactivation in patients undergoing chemotherapy is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Lamivudine has been suggested to be useful as a prophylaxis for HBV reactivation; however, its impact on overall survival and HBV reactivation-related liver disease survival is unclear.

Objective: To determine the effect of lamivudine prophylaxis on the rate of HBV reactivation, overall survival and HBV reactivation-related survival in patients with HBV undergoing chemotherapy.

Methods: A comprehensive search of MEDLINE, Cochrane Collaboration Database, reference lists and abstracts from national meetings. Statistical analysis was performed using revman.

Results: Eleven studies met the defined inclusion criteria and were included in the analysis. Two-hundred and twenty patients received lamivudine prophylaxis and 400 did not receive prophylaxis. Patients given lamivudine prophylaxis had an 87% decrease in HBV reactivation [risk ratio (RR) 0.13, 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.07–0.24] than patients not given prophylaxis [absolute risk reduction (ARR) −0.46, 95% CI, −0.61 to −0.31]. The number needed to treat to prevent one reactivation was 3. The Lamivudine prophylaxis group was also associated with a 70% reduction in reactivation-related mortality (RR 0.30, 95% CI, 0.1–0.94) compared with controls (ARR −0.03, 95% CI, 0.07–0.00). There was a reduction in treatment delays and premature termination of chemotherapy in the lamivudine prophylaxis arm (RR 0.41, 95% CI, 0.27–0.63; ARR −0.33, 95% CI, −0.33 to −0.15). There was no significant heterogeneity in the comparisons.

Conclusion: Lamivudine prophylaxis during chemotherapy is effective in reducing the rate of HBV reactivation, and reactivation-related liver mortality. Patients with lamivudine prophylaxis had less chemotherapy treatment delays and premature termination of their chemotherapy. Few patients need to be treated to prevent reactivation. Patients with HBV undergoing chemotherapy should be started on lamivudine prophylaxis.