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Pediatrics. 2000 Oct;106(4):E53.

Interferon-alpha and ribavirin in treating children and young adults with chronic hepatitis C after malignancy.

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Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Department of Pediatrics, Karl-Franzens-University, Graz, Austria.



Chronic hepatitis C is a major long-term problem for children who survive cancer. Interferon (IFN)-alpha has been shown to be effective in treating patients with chronic hepatitis C; however, the rate of sustained response is low. Combining IFN-alpha and ribavirin (RBV) has been shown to significantly improve the response in adult patients with chronic hepatitis C. The aim of this pilot study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a combined virostatic treatment with IFN-alpha and RBV in a small cohort of children and adolescents with chronic hepatitis C and previous malignancy.


Twelve patients with a history of a hematooncologic disease (median follow-up: 13.5 years; range: 7-14.7 years) and chronic hepatitis C were treated with recombinant IFN-alpha-2a (6 megaunits/m(2) body surface area, 3 times a week, subcutaneously) combined with RBV (15 mg/kg body weight/day, orally) for 12 months. They were tested monthly for blood counts and liver function, and for serum virus concentrations (hepatitis C virus RNA by polymerase chain reaction) every 3 months.


At the end of the treatment, hepatitis C virus RNA could not be detected in the serum of 8 of the 12 patients; 2 of these patients relapsed soon after therapy withdrawal, whereas 6 patients maintained in sustained virologic and biochemical remission (follow-up: 12 months). Treatment-induced toxicity was moderate and reversible with influenza-like symptoms and a decrease in blood counts in all 12 patients, alopecia in 5 of the 12, hemolysis in 4 of the 12, and weight loss of >10% in 2 of the 12.


As demonstrated in adults with chronic hepatitis C, treatment with IFN-alpha and RBV also seems to be an effective and safe therapeutic option for children and adolescents with chronic hepatitis C after malignancy.

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