Source Department of Gastroenterology, Affiliated Hospital of Nantong University, Jiangsu Department of Gastroenterology, Shanghai Xuhui Central Hospital, Shanghai, China.
Aim: The role of interferon (IFN) therapy on prevention of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related cirrhosis remains controversial. This meta-analysis aimed to determine whether IFN therapy reduced the incidence of HCC in HCV-related cirrhotic patients.
Methods: We performed a meta-analysis including eight randomized controlled trials (RCT) (a total of 1505 patients) to assess the effect of IFN therapy on prevention of HCC in patients with HCV-related cirrhosis. The pooled odds ratios (OR) were calculated using a random or fixed effects model.
Results: Our results showed that IFN therapy significantly decreased the overall HCC incidence in HCV-related cirrhotic patients (OR, 0.29; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.10-0.80; P = 0.02). HCC risk in patients who failed to achieve sustained virological response (SVR) in the initial IFN-based treatment was also reduced by maintenance IFN therapy (OR, 0.54; 95% CI, 0.32-0.90; P = 0.02). Subgroup analysis indicated that IFN therapy decreased HCC incidence in HCV-related cirrhotic patients during long-term follow up (>48 months) evidently (OR, 0.25; 95% CI, 0.09-0.67; P = 0.006). However, subgroup analysis of four RCT with short-term follow up (≤48 months) did not demonstrate the significant difference in HCC incidence between IFN-treated cirrhotic patients and controls (OR, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.39-1.55; P = 0.48).
Conclusion: The present study suggested that IFN therapy could efficiently reduce HCC development in patients with HCV-related cirrhosis; this effect was more evident in the subgroup of patients with long-term follow up (>48 months). Patients who received maintenance IFN therapy had a lower risk of HCC than controls.