Gastroenterology Section, VA Long Beach Healthcare System, Long Beach, CA 90822, USA. email@example.com
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection causes chronic hepatitis, which can progress to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma in the United States tripled between 1975 and 2005, and is expected to increase further, and to remain elevated for more than 20 years. Curing hepatitis C infection in patients with cirrhosis through treatment with peginterferon and ribavirin reduces the risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma. Several noncurative treatments also appear to reduce the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with chronic hepatitis C. Prospective studies report a reduced incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma among patients treated with a mixture of carotenoids with or without myo-inositol, with vitamin K₂, or with polyprenoic acid (an acyclic retinoid). Uncontrolled and/or retrospective studies have reported beneficial effects of treatment with Sho-saiko-to, glycyrrhizin and ursodeoxycholic acid on hepatocellular carcinoma incidence. Meta-analyses of epidemiologic studies show a reduced risk of hepatocellular carcinoma among liver disease patients who drink two or more cups of coffee per day. Numerous agents prevent or reduce hepatocarcinogenesis in animal models. An ongoing Phase II clinical trial is evaluating S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) as a potential chemopreventive agent in hepatitis C cirrhosis. Overall, these data suggest that chemoprevention of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with chronic hepatitis C is an achievable objective.