Antiviral therapy can prevent liver cancer in chronic hepatitis B patients

June 23, 2014

One of the most severe complications of hepatitis B is the development of liver cancer, which is responsible for approximately 745,000 deaths worldwide each year. Two new studies appearing in the June issue of Gastroenterology provide strong evidence that antiviral therapy can reduce the risk of liver cancer in patients with chronic hepatitis B infection. Gastroenterology is the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association.

In the first paper,1 researchers from National Yang-Ming University in Taiwan showed that the licensed oral antiviral agent nucleos(t)ide (NUC) resulted in a reduced long-term risk for in a large, nationwide cohort of B patients. This retrospective study analyzed the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common form of liver cancer, in patients treated with several different agents. The NUC-treated cohort had a significantly lower seven-year incidence of liver cancer compared with controls. Overall, the effect of the treatment on reduced risk for cancer was stronger in young patients without cirrhosis and in patients without diabetes.

"Our findings suggest that NUC use reduces the risk of liver cancer in chronic hepatitis B patients, particularly in younger patients with minimal liver damage," said lead study author Chun-Ying Wu, MD, PhD. "The large cohort contributed to the strength of our study, leading to reliable results regarding who can benefit the most from this treatment."

The second study,2 also a retrospective analysis, compared outcomes of chronic hepatitis B patients treated with the antiviral agent entecavir and a less potent drug, lamivudine, at a tertiary care hospital in Seoul, Korea. Researchers found that patients in the entecavir group had a significantly lower risk of death or transplantation than patients treated with lamivudine; however this reduction in risk did not translate to a decreased risk of liver cancer. Both groups produced a similar reduction in liver cancer.

"There is a persistent risk of liver cancer in hepatitis B patients treated with even the most potent agents," said study author Young-Suk Lim, MD, PhD, from department of gastroenterology, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. "Based on our findings, we support recommendations that surveillance for liver cancer should be continued in chronic hepatitis B regardless of the treatment used."

Both papers support the accumulating evidence that, to avert the risk of liver cancer, needs to be initiated early during the chronic hepatitis B infection, preferably before the stage of advanced fibrosis.

Explore further: Antiviral therapy may prevent liver cancer in hepatitis B patients

More information: 1. Wu, Chun-Ying et al. Association of Nucleos(t)ide Analogue Therapy with Reduced Risk of Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Patients with Chronic Hepatitis B – A Nationwide Cohort Study. Gastroenterology 2014: 148(8):143.

2. Lim, Young-Suk et al. Mortality, Liver Transplantation, and Hepatocellular Carcinoma Among Patients with Chronic Hepatitis B Treated with Entecavir vs Lamivudine. Gastroenterology 2014: 148(8):152.

Related Stories

Antiviral therapy may prevent liver cancer in hepatitis B patients

June 9, 2014
Researchers have found that antiviral therapy may be successful in preventing hepatitis B virus from developing into the most common form of liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Hepatitis C remains major problem for HIV patients despite antiretroviral therapy

March 17, 2014
A new study led by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has found that the risk of hepatitis C-associated serious liver disease persists in HIV patients otherwise benefitting from ...

Antiviral therapy may halve risk of liver cancer after chronic hepatitis C infection

October 22, 2012
Treating chronic hepatitis C infection with antiviral drugs could halve the risk of developing the most common form of liver cancer, in some cases, indicates an analysis of the published research in one of the new BMJ Open ...

Pancreatic, liver disease shift up on risk list

May 23, 2014
Money changes everything. To date, lung, breast, prostate and colorectal cancers have accounted for the largest number of cancer deaths. In response, these cancers currently receive the most research funding from the National ...

Antiviral therapy may cut recurrence of hepatitis B-linked liver cancer

November 12, 2012
(HealthDay)—People with liver cancer tied to infection with the hepatitis B virus who got antiviral therapy after cancer surgery had a lower risk of tumor recurrence than those who did not get it, according to a new study.

Gene variants protect against relapse after treatment for hepatitis C

March 13, 2014
Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, have identified a gene, which explains why certain patients with chronic hepatitis C do not experience relapse after treatment. The discovery may contribute ...

Recommended for you

Research examines lung cell turnover as risk factor and target for treatment of influenza pneumonia

July 24, 2017
Influenza is a recurring global health threat that, according to the World Health Organization, is responsible for as many as 500,000 deaths every year, most due to influenza pneumonia, or viral pneumonia. Infection with ...

Scientists propose novel therapy to lessen risk of obesity-linked disease

July 24, 2017
With obesity related illnesses a global pandemic, researchers propose in the Journal of Clinical Investigation using a blood thinner to target molecular drivers of chronic metabolic inflammation in people eating high-fat ...

Raccoon roundworm—a hidden human parasite?

July 24, 2017
The raccoon that topples your trashcan and pillages your garden may leave more than just a mess. More likely than not, it also contaminates your yard with parasites—most notably, raccoon roundworms (Baylisascaris procyonis).

Google searches can be used to track dengue in underdeveloped countries

July 20, 2017
An analytical tool that combines Google search data with government-provided clinical data can quickly and accurately track dengue fever in less-developed countries, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

New test distinguishes Zika from similar viral infections

July 18, 2017
A new test is the best-to-date in differentiating Zika virus infections from infections caused by similar viruses. The antibody-based assay, developed by researchers at UC Berkeley and Humabs BioMed, a private biotechnology ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.