Reuters Health Information (2006-10-16): Colchicine prevents liver cancer in patients with hepatitis virus-related cirrhosis
Colchicine prevents liver cancer in patients with hepatitis virus-related cirrhosis
Last Updated: 2006-10-16 15:47:17 -0400 (Reuters Health)
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Treatment with the anti-gout agent colchicine can help prevent hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients with hepatitis virus-related liver cirrhosis, new research suggests.
Viral hepatitis is known to increase the risk of HCC. Since cancer growth is dependent on cell proliferation, treatment with colchicine, which blocks the formation of cell microtubules needed for mitosis, could have a beneficial effect.
Although colchicine has not proven effective in slowing the progression of fibrosis in cirrhotic patients, its effects on the development of HCC have not been studied, lead author Dr. Oscar Arrieta, from the Instituto Nacional de Cancerologia in Tlalpan, Mexico, and colleagues note.
To investigate, the researchers assessed HCC occurrence in 186 patients with hepatitis virus-related liver cirrhosis who were followed for a minimum of 3 years. The subjects included 116 who received colchicine and 70 who did not.
The authors report their findings in the October 15th issue of Cancer.
Nine percent of colchicine-treated patients developed HCC compared with 29% of untreated patients, the report indicates. Colchicine therapy was also associated with a delay in the average time for HCC development: 222 months versus 150 months.
While the findings are encouraging, the researchers conclude, prospective studies "with a greater number of patients and long-term follow-up may be indicated" to confirm the current observations.