The Role of Interferon Therapy in Patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma
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- Russo, M.W. Curr Hepatitis Rep (2012) 11: 279. doi:10.1007/s11901-010-0075-x
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Interferon (IFN) not only may have antiviral properties against hepatitis C, but also may reduce the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) through anticarcinogenic properties or indirectly by antifibrotic effects. Because patients with chronic hepatitis C and cirrhosis are at risk for HCC, IFN was used to prevent or treat HCC in patients with hepatitis C. Studies demonstrate that the risk of HCC in hepatitis C patients who are sustained viral responders is substantially reduced but not eliminated. The Hepatitis C Antiviral Long-Term Treatment Against Cirrhosis trial demonstrated that maintenance therapy with IFN does not reduce the risk of HCC in patients with bridging fibrosis or cirrhosis. Other studies suggest the risk of HCC is reduced with IFN maintenance therapy in older patients or in patients whose α-fetoprotein levels decline. A randomized clinical trial demonstrated IFN therapy is not effective against HCC. Few studies suggest IFN may reduce the risk of recurrent HCC or reduce tumor burden after ablation or resection. Larger trials are needed to determine if IFN can prevent tumor recurrence after resection or locoregional therapy in patients with hepatitis C cirrhosis and HCC.