Interferon Improves Survival for Hep C Patients with Liver Cancer
- Interferon Improves Survival for Hepatitis C Patients with
The addition of interferon to repeated alcohol injections appears
to improve survival time for hepatitis C patients who have liver
cancer and lessen recurrences, according to a study reported in
the Feb. 18 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Interferon has previously been shown to reduce hepatitis C patients'
risk of developing liver cancer. For those who already have liver
cancer, a common treatment involves injecting alcohol into
cancerous nodules. Although the alcohol kills the tumor cells,
the cancer tends to come back.
In this study, University of Tokyo researchers sought to determine
whether treatment with interferon along with the alcohol injections
would be a better treatment option for liver cancer in such
The researchers studied 49 patients who were mildly infected with
the hepatitis C virus and who had three or fewer live cancer
nodules that had already been treated once with alcohol injections.
Two thirds of the patients received treatment with interferon as well
as alcohol injections, while one third received alcohol injections
The researchers evaluated both groups to determine the timing of
cancer recurrence and to see if survival rates differed between
the groups. They also evaluated evidence for continued hepatitis C
virus infection with and without interferon treatment.
Although the time to the first recurrence of liver cancer did not
differ in the two groups, second and third recurrences were less
frequent in the patients receiving interferon. Five years after
initial treatment, 68 percent of the interferon-treated patients
were alive compared with 48 percent of the untreated patients.
At seven years, 53 percent of the interferon-treated group was
alive compared with 23 percent of the untreated patients.
Continuing hepatitis C virus infection was greatly reduced in
patients who received interferon, but the virus persisted in all
patients who did not receive interferon.
SOURCE:Annals of Internal Medicine, Volume 138 Number 4, 299-306
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