Reuters Health Information (2004-09-24): Prognosis "excellent" in hepatitis C patients with sustained response to interferon
Prognosis "excellent" in hepatitis C patients with sustained response to interferon
Last Updated: 2004-09-24 11:50:43 -0400 (Reuters Health)
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Patients with chronic
hepatitis C who mount a sustained virological response to interferon
monotherapy have an excellent long-term prognosis, results of a large
European study indicate.
"The key end point for treatment efficacy in chronic hepatitis C is
absence of detectable virus at six months after treatment,"
investigators note in the October issue of the journal Gut.
"However, the incidence of clinical events during long-term follow
up of patients with sustained virological response is still poorly
documented and may differ between the Eastern and Western world," they
To investigate, they analyzed individual patient data from a group
of patients treated in eight European follow up studies of interferon
therapy for chronic hepatitis C. The sample included 286 sustained
virological responders and 50 biochemical responders (detectable virus
but normal alanine aminotransferase levels) who were followed for 59
Among sustained virological responders, the rates of late
virological relapse and decompensation were low after five years of
follow up, 4.7% and 1.0%, respectively, and there were no cases of
hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Five-year survival was comparable to
the general European population matched for age and sex.
Among biochemical responders, rates of decompensation and HCC were 9.1% and 7.1%, respectively.
Dr. Solko W. Schalm of Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the
Netherlands, told Reuters Health: "The take home message is that in
patients with chronic hepatitis C, a blood test taken 6 months after
stopping antiviral therapy can predict long term outcome."
"If the sensitive PCR test detects no virus, the patient can be
considered cured from the infection and long term liver complications
are rare," he added.