Hepatocellular carcinoma recurrence in hepatitis C virus-related cirrhosis treated with direct-acting antivirals: a case–control study

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Abstract

Background

Direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) therapy against hepatitis C viral (HCV) infection has markedly improved the sustained viral response. However, recent studies have suggested an unsuspected high rate of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) recurrence.

Patients and methods

A retrospective case–control study was carried out to investigate the impact of DAAs on tumor recurrence in patients with complete response to HCC treatment within our HCV-related cirrhosis cohort. Patients who received [group 1 (G1), n=22] or not [group 2 (G2), n=49] a DAAs therapy were matched 1 : 2 for age, sex, liver function, HCC stage, and treatment.

Results

Initial HCC were mostly Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer stage A (95% G1, 94% G2). Sustained viral response with DAAs was achieved in 86% of patients. After a similar median overall follow-up time with similar radiologic surveillance after HCC treatment, 41% of patients developed radiologic tumor recurrence in G1 versus 35% of patients in G2 (P=0.7904). There was no significant difference in time to progression between the two groups [12 (9–16) months G1 vs. 14 (8–21) months G2, P=0.7688], or Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer stage at recurrence. However, the interval between HCC treatment and antiviral therapy was significantly different among DAAs patients with recurrence and those without recurrence [7.0 (2.5–9.0) months vs. 36.0 (9.0–58.0) months, P=0.0235, respectively].

Conclusion

In our case–control study, HCV therapy with DAAs does not accelerate or prevent early HCC recurrence compared with untreated patients. The rate of recurrence, time to progression, and HCC pattern are similar. Early DAAs treatment (<12 months) after HCC cure should be discouraged considering the HCC recurrence rate during this period.

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