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Dig Dis. 2012;30(6):568-73. doi: 10.1159/000343068. Epub 2012 Dec 13.

Effect of response to interferon-α therapy on the occurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with chronic hepatitis B.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.



The aim of this study was to examine whether interferon-α (IFN-α) therapy may reduce the occurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in chronic hepatitis B (CHB) and to determine its effect based on responsiveness to IFN-α therapy.


A total of 641 biopsy-proven CHB patients were treated with IFN-α2b. They were followed by biochemistry and/or imaging studies at 3- to 6-month intervals for a median period of 113 months (range 6-222).


HCC was detected in 22 patients and 5- and 10-year cumulative occurrence rates were 0.4 and 3.2%, respectively. In univariate analysis, age (p < 0.001), serum AFP levels (p < 0.001), and serum HBV-DNA levels (p = 0.002) at baseline were associated with HCC development. HCC occurred less frequently in biochemical responders at the end of treatment than in non-responders (p = 0.001). However, virologic response was not associated with HCC development. Multivariate analysis showed that poor biochemical response (p = 0.007) as well as older age (p = 0.018) and a higher serum AFP level (p < 0.001) remained independent predisposing factors of HCC development in CHB patients treated with IFN-α.


The results suggest that the biochemical but not virologic response to IFN-α therapy reduces independently the occurrence of HCC in patients with CHB.

Copyright © 2012 S. Karger AG, Basel.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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