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Reuters Health Information (2004-03-04): Cancer-prevention benefits of interferon in hepatitis C patients clarified


Cancer-prevention benefits of interferon in hepatitis C patients clarified

Last Updated: 2004-03-04 12:02:40 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Several reports have shown that interferon therapy reduces the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients with chronic hepatitis C. Now, new research suggests that such therapy provides the greatest benefits in younger patients with advanced fibrosis.

The findings, which are reported in the March issue of Gut, are based on an analysis of data from 2787 patients in the Inhibition of Hepatocarcinogenesis by Interferon Therapy (IHIT) cohort.

All of the patients had biopsy-confirmed chronic hepatitis C, and comprised 2392 who were treated with interferon monotherapy and 395 who were not.

The primary outcome measure was gain in HCC-free survival, "defined as the difference between expected HCC free survival with sustained virological response and that without," Dr. H. Yoshida, from the University of Tokyo, and colleagues note.

The gain in HCC-free survival increased as patient age decreased and liver pathology worsened, the researchers found. For example, a 30-year old patient with F3 fibrosis could be expected to gain 12.4 years by achieving a sustained virologic response, whereas a patient older than 60 years with F1 fibrosis would gain less than 1 year.

"By using data obtained in a real cohort, we established an indicator of the benefit of interferon therapy -- the gain in HCC free survival," the authors note. This parameter could be useful in deciding when such therapy is indicated for a particular patient, they add.

Gut 2004;53:425-430.

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