BOSTON – For patients with a complete response following treatment for hepatitis C virus (HCV)–related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), treatment with direct-acting antiviral therapy was linked to significantly reduced mortality compared with no such treatment, according to results of a large cohort study.
The mortality benefit associated with direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy was consistent across most subgroups, suggesting that the association was driven by achieving sustained virological response (SVR), according to Amit G. Singal, MD, associate professor of medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas.
Those results suggest that DAA therapy in patients with a history of HCC is not only safe, but is also beneficial, Dr. Singal said at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.
“To be slightly controversial, I think that this changes the paradigm in this subgroup of patients from ‘can be treated’ for their hepatitis C to ‘should be treated,’ ” he concluded in an oral presentation of the results.
While DAA treatment is proven to reduce risk of incident HCC in patients with cirrhosis, the risk-benefit ratio is “less clear” in patients with a history of HCC following complete response, according to Dr. Singal.
Moreover, concerns were raised about the safety of DAA therapy in patients with an HCC history, after early data suggested a potentially higher recurrence risk, he added.
In the current multicenter, retrospective North American cohort study, Dr. Singal and colleagues reviewed data for 797 patients with HCV–related HCC who achieved complete response following ablation, resection, radiotherapy, transarterial chemoembolization, or transarterial radioembolization.
Treatment with DAA therapy was associated with improved overall survival, according to results of multivariable analysis, with a hazard ratio of 0.54 (95% confidence interval, 0.33-0.90). Median time from HCC complete response to death was 25.7 months for the DAA treatment group, versus 11.5 months for the untreated group.
The association between DAA treatment and death was apparently driven by SVR, as reduced mortality was seen in the DAA-treated patients who did achieve SVR, but not in those without SVR, Dr. Singal reported.
While these findings together suggest that DAA treatment is linked to reduced mortality after HCC complete response, prospective studies are needed to confirm this association, Dr. Singal said.
Dr. Singal reported disclosures related to AbbVie, Bayer, BMS, Eisai, Exact Sciences, Exelixis, Genentech, Gilead FOCUS, Glycotest, GRAIL, Merck, Roche, TARGET Pharmasolutions, and Wako Diagnostics.
SOURCE: Singal AG et al. The Liver Meeting 2019, .