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J Clin Oncol. 2004 Mar 1;22(5):927-34.

Lamivudine for the prevention of hepatitis B virus reactivation in hepatitis B s-antigen seropositive cancer patients undergoing cytotoxic chemotherapy.

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  • 1MRCP, Department of Clinical Oncology, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, Hong Kong. winnieyeo@



For cancer patients receiving cytotoxic chemotherapy, hepatitis B virus (HBV) reactivation is a well described complication resulting in varying degrees of liver damage. The objectives of this study were to assess the efficacy of the antiviral agent lamivudine in reducing the incidence of HBV reactivation and diminishing morbidity and mortality of cancer patients with chronic HBV infection during chemotherapy.


Two groups were compared in this nonrandomized study. The prophylactic lamivudine group consisted of 65 patients in a phase II study who were treated with lamivudine before and until 8 weeks after discontinuing chemotherapy. The historical controls consisted of 193 consecutive patients who underwent chemotherapy without prophylactic lamivudine. Significant prognosticators for the development of HBV reactivation were determined based on data from the controls. Potential confounding factors were identified between the two groups. The outcomes were compared.


In the controls, lymphoma and anthracycline usage were factors identified to be associated with reactivation. The two groups were comparable in most baseline characteristics, although in the prophylactic lamivudine group, there were significantly more patients with lymphoma and receiving anthracyclines. In the prophylactic lamivudine group, there was significantly less HBV reactivation (4.6% v 24.4% in the controls; P <.001), fewer incidences of hepatitis (17.5% v 44.6%; P <.0001) that were less severe (4.8% v 18.7%; P =.0005), and less disruption of chemotherapy (15.4% v 34.6%; P =.0029). The reduction in overall mortality was not statistically different.


Prophylactic lamivudine significantly reduced the incidence of HBV reactivation and the overall morbidity of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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