Division of Clinical and Molecular Hepatology, Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital of Messina, Messina, Italy.
Hepatitis B virus reactivation may occur in occult-infected carriers with haematological malignancies, whereas little data are available in patients undergoing chemotherapy for solid tumours.
Evaluation of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy to investigate occult hepatitis B virus infection and its clinical-virological outcome.
Forty-four patients with solid tumours and without liver disease were prospectively enrolled and sampled before starting chemotherapy and between the second and third chemotherapy cycles (time points 1 and 2, respectively); 24 were also sampled 6 months after the end of chemotherapy (time point 3). At each time point, subjects were tested for liver biochemistry, hepatitis B serology and occult infection.
No sample tested positive for virus surface antigen. Twelve subjects (27.3%) were antibody positive to hepatitis B virus. Overall, occult infection was detected in 4 cases (9%), with positive HBV DNA at time points 1 and 2 (one case), at time point 1 only (one case), only at time points 2 and 3 (two cases), respectively. No occult-infected carrier experienced liver biochemistry flares and/or viral surface antigen positivity.
Occult hepatitis B virus infection may occur in subjects with solid tumours, although the risk of its reactivation under chemotherapy appears to be very low.