After the surgical or medical treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma, further tumors frequently develop, leading to poor prognosis.
In this study, researchers from Japan assessed whether combined tumor ablation and interferon therapy can reduce the occurrence of new tumors, thus improving survival.
The team performed a randomized, controlled study.
|Rates of second or third recurrence were lower in the interferon group.|
|Annals of Internal Medicine|
They included 74 patients with compensated cirrhosis, 3 or fewer nodules of hepatocellular carcinoma, and low hepatitis C virus RNA loads (≤2 x 106 copies/ml) in the study.
Once patients had complete ablation of lesions by percutaneous ethanol injection therapy, 49 patients were assigned to receive 6 million U of interferon 3 times weekly for 48 weeks. A further 25 patients did not receive treatment.
The researchers analyzed abdominal ultrasonography, computed tomography, and determination of blood biochemical measures.
Of the 49 patients treated with interferon, 21 showed a sustained biochemical response, while a further 14 had a sustained virologic response.
The team found that the rate of first recurrence of new foci of hepatocellular carcinoma was similar in both interferon treated and untreated patients.
However, rates of second or third recurrence appeared to be lower in the interferon group, than in the untreated group.
Patients treated with interferon had a survival rate of 68% at 5 years and 53% at 7 years. In comparison, untreated patients had a survival rate of 48% at 5 years and 23% at 7 years.
Dr Yasushi Shiratori ’s team concluded, “After tumor ablation by ethanol injection, interferon therapy may enhance patient survival in selected patients with chronic hepatitis C”.