Department of Epidemiology, Shanghai Key Laboratory of Medical Biodefense, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, China.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a fatal disease. Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) and/or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is the major cause of HCC. High viral replication rate and related hepatic/systematic inflammation are the major risk factors in HCC recurrence after hepatectomy or liver transplantation.
Some of the carcinogenesis-related HBV mutations are also associated with poor prognosis for HCC patients. Antiviral therapy is an option for improving HCC prognosis after surgery. In case of HBV-associated HCC, treatment with interferon and nucleos(t)ide analogues (NAs), especially interferon, is effective in improving the prognosis. However, long-term use of NAs increases the possibility of developing drug-resistant viral mutations such as the HBV rtA181T/sW172 mutation, which increases the risk of HCC recurrence.
In cases of HCV-associated HCC, standard interferon with or without ribavirin therapy is effective in improving the prognosis of HCV-associated HCC; however, some HCV mutations, such as the amino acid substitution M91L, are associated with treatment failure and a poor prognosis. Therapeutic efficacy needs to be confirmed using largescale, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials.
Surveillance of viral mutations during antiviral treatment and a better understanding of the associations of HCC recurrence with viral load, inflammation-associated signaling, and environmental factors can aid the development of more effective strategies for the prevention of HCC recurrence after surgery.