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Oncology. 2007;72 Suppl 1:16-23. Epub 2007 Dec 13.

Long-term effects of interferon-based therapy for chronic hepatitis C.

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  • 1Hepatobiliary Division, Department of Internal Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.


Hepatitis C virus infection frequently causes chronic liver disease leading to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and has become the main indication for liver transplantation. Interferon (IFN)-based therapy has been used in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C (CHC) for viral clearance. Several earlier studies showed long-term beneficial effects of IFN monotherapy in reducing the progression of cirrhosis, hindering HCC development, and prolonging survival among both sustained virological responders and nonresponders. However, the benefits of preventing disease progression in CHC patients without sustained virological response (SVR) no longer existed over a longer observation period. Both IFN monotherapy and IFN-ribavirin combination therapy were shown to reduce significantly the complications of liver disease, in terms of development of cirrhosis, HCC and liver-related mortality. The significance disappeared after response to antiviral treatment was taken into account. The benefits were obtained mainly from successful antiviral treatment but were not related to the antiviral regimens, suggesting that the magnitude of this preventive effect could increase through the significant improvement of SVR rate by using a more effective regimen, such as interferon-ribavirin or peginterferon-ribavirin combination therapy. Nevertheless, about one-third of patients remain resistant to the current recommended antiviral regimens. More effective treatment is needed for the population.

Copyright 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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