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Reuters Health Information (2013-04-23): Interferon may curb recurrence of liver cancer

Drug & Device Development

Interferon may curb recurrence of liver cancer

Last Updated: 2013-04-23 15:05:29 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Pegylated interferon may help keep an aggressive form of hepatoma from recurring after curative resection, a new study suggests.

Patients in the study had metastatic tumor antigen 1 (MTA1)-positive hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). MTA1 overexpression is closely associated with HCC recurrence after surgery, according to Dr. Young-Hwa Chung of the University of Ulsan College of Medicine in Seoul, Korea, and colleagues.

In email to Reuters Health, Dr. Chung speculated that their findings "may contribute to a tailored therapy for HCC patients in the near future."

Because interferon is used to prevent HCC in patients with chronic viral hepatitis, the researchers hoped their case-control study would show that it also reduces HCC recurrence in these high-risk patients.

Thirty-one patients received weekly subcutaneous pegylated interferon for 10 weeks; another 62 received no adjuvant therapy. All 93 had curative resections of MTA1-positive tumors, including 77 with hepatitis B (HBV), six with hepatitis C (HCV), and 10 with non-HBV/non-HCV.

Patients were followed for a median of two years, the researchers reported April 5 online in Cancer.

Overall cumulative recurrence rates were significantly lower in the interferon group at one year (7% vs 14%) and two years (24% vs 34%). In addition, all interferon patients were alive at two years, whereas in the control group, 93% were alive at one year and 87% at two years.

Men had lower survival rates. All women were still alive at two years, compared to 94% of men at one year and 88% at two years.

In multivariate analysis, adjuvant interferon was identified as an independent favorable predictor of less frequent recurrence after curative surgical resection. This was also true of being a woman and having a lower Cancer of the Liver Italian Program (CLIP) score.

The researchers observe that this was "not a randomized controlled trial but a kind of preliminary study" and among other limitations had very strict entry criteria and follow-up was relatively short.

Nevertheless, they say, high CLIP scores and male gender may be useful markers to predict postoperative recurrence of MTA1-positive HCC.

"To move forward," they conclude, a randomized, multicenter trial "may be an appropriate next step."


Cancer 2013.

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