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Ann Intern Med. 2005 Jan 18;142(2):105-14.

Antiviral therapy for cirrhotic hepatitis C: association with reduced hepatocellular carcinoma development and improved survival.

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University of Tokyo, Japanese Red Cross Medical Center, Nippon University School of Medicine, and Tokyo Women's Medical College. <>



Although cirrhosis is a major risk factor for development of hepatocellular carcinoma, no definitive prospective analyses have assessed the long-term efficacy of antiviral therapy in cirrhotic patients.


To elucidate the role of antiviral therapy in the suppression of liver tumors and survival over a long-term follow-up period.


Prospective cohort study.


25 clinical centers.


345 patients with chronic hepatitis C and cirrhosis enrolled in previous trials.


271 patients received 6 to 9 million U of interferon 3 times weekly for 26 to 88 weeks; 74 received no treatment.


Blood tests and abdominal ultrasonography were done regularly to detect hepatocellular carcinoma.


Hepatocellular carcinoma was detected in 119 patients during a 6.8-year follow-up: 84 (31%) in the interferon-treated group and 35 (47%) in the untreated group. Cumulative incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma among interferon-treated patients was significantly lower than in untreated patients (Cox model: age-adjusted hazard ratio, 0.65 [95% CI, 0.43 to 0.97]; P = 0.03), especially sustained virologic responders. A total of 69 patients died during follow-up: 45 (17%) in the treated group and 24 (32%) in the untreated group. Interferon-treated patients had a better chance of survival than the untreated group (Cox model: age-adjusted hazard ratio, 0.54 [CI, 0.33 to 0.89]; P = 0.02). This was especially evident in sustained virologic responders.


This was not a randomized, controlled study. Patients enrolled in the control group had declined to receive interferon treatment even though they were eligible for treatment.


Interferon therapy for cirrhotic patients with chronic hepatitis C, especially those in whom the infection had been cured, inhibited the development of hepatocellular carcinoma and improved survival.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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