OBJECTIVES: To assess whether commencement of antiviral therapy after hepatectomy improves the prognosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in preoperatively antiviral-naive patients with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection.
DESIGN: Retrospective analysis of a prospectively collected database.
SETTING: University teaching hospital.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Disease-free and overall survival rates.
RESULTS: One hundred thirty-six patients received major hepatectomy for HBV-related HCC from September 1, 2003, through December 31, 2007. Among them, 42 patients received antiviral therapy (treatment group) after hepatectomy, whereas 94 did not (control group). Patient demographics, preoperative liver function, tumor characteristics, and liver function at the time of tumor recurrence were comparable between the 2 groups. Disease-free and overall survival rates were significantly prolonged in the treatment group. The 1-, 3-, and 5-year overall survival rates in the treatment group were 88.1%, 79.1%, and 71.2%, respectively; in the control group, 76.5%, 47.5%, and 43.5%, respectively (P = .005). The 1-, 3-, and 5-year disease-free survival rates in the treatment group were 66.5%, 51.4%, and 51.4%, respectively; in the control group, 48.9%, 33.8%, and 33.8%, respectively (P = .05). Subgroup analysis stratified against tumor stage and major vascular invasion showed that posthepatectomy antiviral treatment conferred a significant survival benefit in stages I and II tumors or HCCs without major venous invasion.
CONCLUSIONS: Antiviral therapy improves the prognosis of HBV-related HCC. It should be considered after hepatectomy for HBV-related HCC, especially in early-stage tumors.