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Prevention of hepatocellular carcinoma in hepatitis B virus infection

, : Prevention of hepatocellular carcinoma in hepatitis B virus infection. Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology 24(8): 1352-1357

Chronic hepatitis B is the main risk factor for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in Asia. The most important preventive strategy's adoption of the universal hepatitis B vaccination program is now in its third decade. There is a clear reduction in both chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection (hepatitis B surface antigen "carriage") but also in childhood HCC in Taiwan. An outstanding concern is variability in vaccine coverage between countries. For patients with chronic hepatitis B, serum HBV DNA levels have emerged as the key risk factor for development of HCC. The initial treatment for chronic hepatitis B was interferon. One randomized control trial, and several case-control or cohort studies have shown benefits for preventing HCC, particularly in cirrhotic patients who responded to therapy. With nucleos(t)ide analogs, the most important study has been the Asian Cirrhosis Lamivudine multicenter randomized controlled trial. This showed that lamivudine can reduce disease progression in HBV-related cirrhosis, including an approximately 50% decrease in HCC incidence. Such efficacy was achieved despite emergence of drug resistance in approximately 50% of cases. Case-control studies have suggested that hepatitis B cases without cirrhosis may also benefit. In conclusion, it is now possible to prevent HBV-related HCC. The most effective method is hepatitis B vaccination, which prevents chronic HBV infection and chronic liver disease resulting therefrom. Interferon therapy appears to confer benefit but the evidence is weaker. First-generation oral antiviral (lamivudine) reduces HCC risk, particularly in cirrhotics. Long-term outcome data with newer, more potent HBV antivirals that have a higher genetic barrier to drug resistance are eagerly awaited.


PMID: 19702903

DOI: 10.1111/j.1440-1746.2009.05985.x

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