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Cancer. 1998 Sep 15;83(6):1224-30.

Liver dysfunction in patients infected with hepatitis C virus undergoing chemotherapy for hematologic malignancies.

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Liver Unit, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles, USA.



Reactivation of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection with the development of fulminant hepatitis induced by withdrawal of chemotherapy and/or corticosteroids (CS) is well known. However, less is known about liver dysfunction in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) who are undergoing chemotherapy. Thus, the authors conducted this study to determine whether chemotherapy for HCV positive patients with hematologic malignancies is associated with hepatic injury.


Thirty-three consecutive HCV positive patients were studied. Twenty-six had B-cell lymphoma, two had Hodgkin's disease, two had acute myeloblastic leukemia (AML), two had chronic myelocytic leukemia, and one had multiple myeloma. HCV infection was detected by anti-HCV antibodies (enzyme immunoassay) and HCV RNA (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction). In 28 of 33 patients, CS were used as part of the chemotherapy regimens. Liver function tests (LFTs) were evaluated prior to chemotherapy, a mean of 19 days after each cycle of chemotherapy, and during the follow-up period after the completion of chemotherapy. Mean follow-up was 14 months (range, 7-26 months).


Twenty-seven of 33 patients (82%) were positive for both anti-HCV and HCV RNA, 5 for HCV RNA only, and 1 for anti-HCV antibodies only. Fourteen patients (42%) had normal pretreatment LFTs. During treatment, 18 patients (55%) (7 with normal and 11 with abnormal pretreatment transaminase levels) had mild-to-moderate increases of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) (median, 156 U/L; range, 59-491) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) (median, 121; range, 45-243), which occurred 2-3 weeks after the withdrawal of chemotherapy without associated hyperbilirubinemia. Only one patient with baseline ALT and AST of 182 IU/L and 117 IU/L had a severe "flare" of hepatitis C, with peak ALT and AST of 491 IU/L and 243 IU/L. No patient developed fulminant hepatitis or died of liver-related causes. Posttreatment levels of transaminases were not significantly different from pretreatment levels. Abnormal pretreatment transaminase levels did not predict further increase during treatment.


Significant hepatic dysfunction is uncommon among HCV infected patients treated with chemotherapy for hematologic malignancies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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