Long-term interferon therapy after radiofrequency ablation is effective in treating patients with HCV-associated hepatocellular carcinoma
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- Shimomura, S., Ikeda, N., Saito, M. et al. Hepatol Int (2011) 5: 559. doi:10.1007/s12072-010-9214-2
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This study investigates the usefulness of long-term interferon (IFN) therapy following radiofrequency ablation (RFA) for HCV-associated hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
This is a retrospective observational study. Patients underwent pegylated IFN-α/ribavirin combination therapy for 48 weeks and then were maintained on IFN-α administration on average for 68 weeks (mean total duration 116 weeks). Patients who underwent IFN monotherapy were maintained on IFN administration on average for 78 weeks.
There were biases in the background factors between the IFN and non-IFN groups. Therefore, a covariate adjustment was performed using the propensity score. An analysis of 20-matched patients from each group showed the 5-year cumulative survival rate was higher in the IFN group than in the non-IFN group (100 and 76%, respectively), and the 3-year cumulative recurrence rate was significantly lower in the IFN group than in the non-IFN group (38.0 and 64.2%, respectively). In 14 patients (i.e., IFN responders), the serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) level remained normalized at 30 IU/mL or lower, regardless of disappearance of serum HCV RNA. In these patients, the cumulative recurrence rate was low, the hazard ratio was 0.158 (95% confidence interval = 0.045–0.561, P = 0.004), and the serum albumin level was retained.
These results show the importance of maintaining the liver function and suggest that long-term IFN administration after RFA inhibits recurrence and contributes to an improved outcome in patients (in particular, IFN responders) who initially develop HCC.