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Keywords:

  • cancer prevention;
  • cirrhosis;
  • hepatitis C virus;
  • hepatocellular carcinoma;
  • interferon

Background:  We assessed the efficacy and anticarcinogenic effects of interferon (IFN) therapy in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related cirrhosis.

Methods:  The study subjects were 123 Japanese patients with HCV-related cirrhosis with genotype 1b low viral load or genotype 2 who received IFN from 1989 to 2005 (18 patients continue to receive IFN therapy). They included 81 men and 42 women aged 29–74 years (median, 56 years).

Results:  Univariate analysis identified four parameters that significantly influenced SVR; viral load (low HCV concentration, P < 0.001), duration of IFN therapy (≥ 52 weeks, P = 0.029), daily dose of IFN (≥ 6 million units, P = 0.018), induction therapy (presence, P = 0.010) and choline esterase (> 1.0 ΔpH, P = 0.037). Multivariate analysis identified viral load (risk ratio = 6.329, P < 0.001) and daily dose of IFN (risk ratio = 2.62, P = 0.042) as two independent parameters thatinfluenced SVR. During the observation period, newly developed hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) was detected in 22 patients. The rates of development of HCC in patients with SVR were 5.8% at the fifth year and 10.3% at the 10th year, compared with 25.8% at the fifth year and 42.5% at the 10th year in non-SVR patients. Multivariate analysis showed that IFN efficacy (SVR) was the only independent factor of hepatocarcinogenesis (hazard ratio: 0.185, 95% confidence interval: 0.042–0.810, P = 0.025)

Conclusion:  Among patients with HCV-related cirrhosis, the rate of development of HCC is significantly less in patients with SVR.