Evidence Conflicting for Anti-HCV Drugs in Liver Cancer

Though a new generation of drugs has proved highly effective against the hepatitis C virus (HCV), a leading risk factor for liver cancer in the United States, there is conflicting evidence about whether the therapies promote cancer recurrence in infected patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) who already have responded to curative treatment.

Researchers who have been at the forefront of studying this unexpected controversy concerning direct-acting antiviral (DAA) treatments for HCV presented their findings at the 2016 International Liver Cancer Association (ILCA) conference in Vancouver, Canada.

María Reig, MD, of the Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC) Group, reported that 27.6% of 58 patients who had achieved a complete response and lacked non-characterized nodules after curative HCC therapy and went on to take the anti-HCV drugs experienced a recurrence of their cancer after a median follow-up of 5.7 months. The incidence was higher if broader groups of patients who had been treated with HCC were considered, Reig indicated.

Notably, the recurrence rates were higher and surfaced earlier than has been shown in other cohorts of patients who have responded to various HCC treatments, Reig said.

By contrast, no evidence of an increased risk of recurrence was found by researchers who culled through findings from 3 French prospective multicenter trials of 660 patients with chronic HCV or cirrhosis who were treated for HCC. Of these patients, 516 received DAA therapy after their cancer treatment.2

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