Researchers at Copenhagen University, Denmark, conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials to determine whether antiviral therapy for treatment of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection reduces the risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer). Researchers performed electronic searches of the Cochrane Library, PubMed, EMBASE, and Web of Science for studies that met their requirements. They performed additional searches, including scanning reference lists from relevant papers on chronic hepatitis C and liver cancer, conference proceedings, and the World Health Organization Trial Search Portal.
Eight randomized trials, and five prospective cohort studies comparing antiviral therapy (interferon or pegylated interferon alone or with ribavirin), placebo, or no intervention were analyzed. The treatment time varied from 1 to 5 years and follow-up ranged from 2 to 8.7 years.
The results indicate that antiviral therapy may reduce the risk of liver cancer in hepatitis C-related fibrosis and cirrhosis. The effect may be seen irrespective of the virological response, but is more pronounced among virological responders compared with non-responders.
The study was reported online in the journal BMJ Open 2012;2:e001313 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001313.
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