Hepatitis C treatment failure is associated with increased risk of hepatocellular carcinoma

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Journal of viral hepatitis


Sustained virological response (SVR) to antiviral therapy for hepatitis C (HCV) reduces risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), but there is little information regarding how treatment failure (TF) compares to lack of treatment. We evaluated the impact of treatment status on risk of HCC using data from the Chronic Hepatitis Cohort Study (CHeCS-an observational study based in four large US health systems, with up to 7 years of follow-up on patients). Multivariable analyses were used to adjust for bias in treatment selection, as well as other covariates, followed by sensitivity analyses. Among 10 091 HCV patients, 3681 (36%) received treatment, 2099 (57%) experienced treatment failure (TF), and 1582 (43%) of these achieved sustained virological response (SVR). TF patients demonstrated almost twice the risk of HCC than untreated patients [adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) = 1.95, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.50-2.53]; this risk persisted across all stages of fibrosis. Several sensitivity analyses validated these results. Although African Americans were at increased risk of treatment failure, they were at lower risk for HCC and all-cause mortality compared to White patients. SVR patients had lower risk of HCC than TF patients (aHR = 0.48, CI 0.31-0.73), whereas treatment - regardless of outcome - reduced all-cause mortality (aHR = 0.45, CI 0.34-0.60 for SVR patients; aHR = 0.78, CI 0.65-0.93 for TF patients).

Medical Subject Headings

Adult; Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Antiviral Agents; Carcinoma, Hepatocellular; Ethnic Groups; Female; Hepatitis C, Chronic; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Prospective Studies; Retrospective Studies; Risk Assessment; Treatment Failure; United States; Young Adult

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