, Volume 41, Issue 12, pp 1206-1213
Date: 06 Feb 2007

Interferon lowers tumor recurrence rate after surgical resection or ablation of hepatocellular carcinoma: a pilot study of patients with hepatitis B virus-related cirrhosis

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Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) caused by hepatitis B virus (HBV) often recurs after surgical or medical treatment.


Eighty consecutive patients with HBV-positive cirrhosis and HCC who underwent potentially curative ablation for HCC were analyzed. Eleven patients received long-term interferon (IFN) therapy. HBV DNA was quantified at the time of HCC treatment. A DNA value of <6.0 log copies/ml was considered low.


Initial DNA was low in 39 and high in 41 patients. HCC recurrence rates in the low DNA group and high DNA group were 46.9% and 82.6% at the fifth year, and 73.5% and 91.3% at the tenth year, respectively (P = 0.0103). Similarly, recurrence rates after treatment of HCC in the normal aspartate aminotransferase (AST) group (<38 IU/l, n = 42) and abnormal AST group (n = 38) were 50.6% and 84.0% at the fifth year, and 71.3% and 100% at the tenth year, respectively (P = 0.0003). Six of the 38 patients with abnormal AST, and 5 of 42 patients with normal AST, received IFN after confirmation of tumor ablation. In the subgroup of abnormal AST, tumor recurrence rates in the IFN and untreated groups were 16.7% and 37.9% at the end of the first year, 16.7% and 60.1% at the second year, and 16.7% and 83.4% at the third year, respectively (P = 0.0139). Multivariate analysis revealed that IFN significantly reduced the recurrence rate (hazard ratio = 0.21, P = 0.037) even after adjusting for background characteristics.


IFN was inferred to decrease tumor recurrence after treatment of HCC in patients with HBV-related cirrhosis, especially in the subgroup with high AST.