Background/Aims: Treatment of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) depends on the tumour extent and underlying liver function. Antiviral therapy with nucleoside/nucleotide analogues has been shown to be effective in improving the liver function of chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients. We assessed whether lamivudine could induce biochemical and virological improvements in patients with hepatitis B virus-related HCC.
Patients/Methods: Of 148 CHB patients treated with 100 mg/day lamivudine for at least 6 months, 80 had HCC (CHB/HCC group) and 68 did not (CHB group). Biochemical and virological parameters were serially monitored.
Results: Compared with the CHB group, the CHB/HCC group was older, had higher male predominance, bilirubin levels and liver cirrhosis rate, and lower albumin and hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA levels and hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) positivity (P<0.05 each). The two groups showed similar cumulative rates of alanine aminotransferase normalization, HBV DNA seroconversion, HBeAg loss and viral breakthrough during 12 months of lamivudine treatment. After 12 months, the CHB/HCC group showed, relative to baseline, increased albumin levels (3.51±0.5 vs. 3.72±0.5 mg/ml) and decreased ascites scores (1.63±0.7 vs. 1.45±0.6) and Child–Pugh scores (6.92±1.9 vs. 6.02±1.38) (P<0.05 each).
Conclusion: Lamivudine had comparable antiviral effects both in patients with CHB and CHB/HCC, and improved underlying liver function in the latter group. Treatment of HBV may increase the chance of curative treatments in patients with HBV-related HCC.