Background: The role of anti-viral therapy in prevention of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) recurrence is to be defined.
Aim: To investigate the role of anti-viral therapy in prevention of tumour recurrence after curative treatment of hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related HCC.
Methods: A systematic electronic search on keywords including HCC and different anti-viral therapies was performed through eight electronic databases, including Medline, EMBASE and Cochrane Databases. The primary outcome was HCC recurrence after curative treatment of HBV-related HCC. The secondary outcomes were mortality related to HCC, mortality related to liver failure and the overall mortality.
Results: Nine cohort studies were included with a total number of 551 patients: 204 patients with anti-viral treatment group and 347 patients without anti-viral treatment (control group). There was significant difference in the incidence of HCC recurrence in favour of the anti-viral treatment group (55% vs. 58%; odds risk (OR)=0.59, 95% CI 0.35-0.97, P=0.04). The risk of HCC was reduced by 41% in the anti-viral treatment group. There were also significant differences in favour of anti-viral treatment group in terms of liver-related mortality (0% vs. 8%; OR=0.13, 95% CI 0.02-0.69, P=0.02) and overall mortality (38% vs. 42%; OR=0.27, 95% CI 0.14-0.50, P<0.001).
Conclusions: Anti-viral therapy has potential beneficial effects after the curative treatment of HBV-related hepatocellular carcinoma in terms of tumour recurrence, liver-related mortality and overall survival. Anti-viral therapy should be considered after curative treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma.