Hepatitis C Antiviral Drugs Reduce Liver Cancer Risk

The single leading cause of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) around the world is chronic infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV).

Other risk factors associated with an increased incidence of HCC include liver fibrosis, cirrhosis, increased age, male sex, diabetes, obesity, smoking, excessive alcohol intake, hepatitis B virus (HBV) co-infection, and HCV genotype 3 infection.

Prior to the recent availability of direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) for the treatment of HCV, interferons were a mainstay of therapy. Evidence suggests that interferon-based therapy to achieve sustained virologic response (SVR) in patients with chronic HCV dramatically reduces the risk of HCC, although it may take many years to fully realize that risk reduction.
           
Recent studies have reached disparate conclusions regarding the impact of DAAs on the risk of HCC among patients with HCV who have achieved SVR. As a result, Gilead Sciences, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company responsible for bringing a number of DAAs to the market, funded an investigation to further elucidate the relationship between DAAs and the risk of HCC.
 
Amanda Singer, PhD, MPH, researcher at Gilead and lead study author, and colleagues explained the rationale for their investigation, “The seriousness of HCC as a potential treatment-related outcome, contrasted with the serious implications of withholding HCV treatment from sick patients due to a potentially unfounded concern of an increased risk of HCC development after DAA therapy, warrants further investigation.”
 
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