From the Journals

Direct-acting antiviral therapy boosts survival for infected HCC patients



Direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy significantly reduced the risk of death in patients with hepatitis C infections and a history of hepatocellular carcinoma, based on data from 797 individuals.

Previous studies have reported a benefit of direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy for reducing mortality in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), but data on its impact in patients with complete responses to HCC therapy are limited, wrote Amit G. Singal, MD, of the University of Texas, Dallas, and colleagues.

In a study published in Gastroenterology, the researchers identified adult HCC patients who achieved complete treatment response between January 2013 and December 2017. The study included patients from 31 locations in the United States and Canada. Complete response to treatment was defined as “disappearance of arterial enhancement from all HCC lesions on contrast-enhanced cross-sectional imaging.”

A total of 383 (48.1%) of patients were randomized to DAA therapy, and 414 (51.9%) did not receive DAA treatment for their HCV infection after complete response to prior HCC therapy.

A total of 43 deaths occurred among DAA patients over 941 person-years of follow-up, compared with 103 deaths over 527 person-years of follow-up for the untreated controls. Overall, DAA therapy was associated with a significantly reduced risk of death (hazard ratio, 0.54), compared with no therapy. Of note, patients with a sustained virologic response showed a reduced risk of death (HR, 0.29), but those without a sustained virologic response to DAA therapy did not (HR, 1.13).

The findings support those from previous studies suggesting that DAA therapy may reduce mortality in patients with a history of HCC, the researchers said.

The study findings were limited by several factors, including potential confounding if DAA was given to patients with better prognoses, the researchers noted. Other limitations include the use of imaging in routine clinical care rather than centralized review, the loss of approximately 9% of the patients to follow-up, and the lack of data on hepatic decompensation during follow-up, the researchers said. However, the results were strengthened by the multicenter design, large cohort, and inclusion of untreated controls, and support the use of DAA therapies as “likely beneficial in HCV-infected patients with a history of HCC,” they concluded.

The study was funded in part by the National Cancer Institute and AbbVie. Dr. Singal disclosed relationships with companies including AbbVie, Gilead, Bayer, Eisai, Wako Diagnostics, Exact Sciences, Exelixis, Roche, Glycotest, and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

SOURCE: Singal AG et al. Gastroenterology. 2019. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2019.07.040.

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