Gianni Testino, Paolo Borro, Department of Internal e Specialistic Medicine, Centro Alcologico Regionale-Regione Liguria, UO Alcologia e Patologie Correlate, 16132 Genova, Italy.
Interferon (IFN) therapy has been reported to decrease the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and improve survival by preventing liver-related deaths in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, while the role of IFN therapy on the natural history of hepatitis C related cirrhosis is still under debate. The ideal goal of therapy is to prevent the progression into end-stage disease. The use of IFN in patients with HCV compensated cirrhosis reduces the negative clinical evolution independently of the type of laboratoristic and virological response. In our experience, IFN therapy in HCV compensated cirrhosis is barely useful in prevention of HCC, as cirrhosis itself represents a risk of cancer. Some authors noted that IFN treatment reduces the risk of HCC independently of the virological response. It would probably be interesting to evaluate the efficacy of weekly low-dose pegylated (PEG)-IFN therapy in patients with HCV cirrhosis and to assess potential benefits of long-term PEG-IFN plus Ribavirin treatment.