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Vol. 30, No. 6, 2012
Issue release date: December 2012
Dig Dis 2012;30:568–573

Effect of Response to Interferon-α Therapy on the Occurrence of Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Patients with Chronic Hepatitis B

Lee D. · Chung Y.-H. · Lee S.-H. · Kim S.E. · Lee Y.-S. · Kim K.M. · Lim Y.S. · Lee H.C. · Lee Y.S. · Yu E.
Departments of aInternal Medicine and bPathology, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, and cDepartment of Internal Medicine, Cheonan Hospital, Soonchunhyang University College of Medicine, Cheonan, Republic of Korea

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Objectives: The aim of this study was to examine whether interferon-α (IFN-α) therapy may reduce the occurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in chronic hepatitis B (CHB) and to determine its effect based on responsiveness to IFN-α therapy. Methods: A total of 641 biopsy-proven CHB patients were treated with IFN-α2b. They were followed by biochemistry and/or imaging studies at 3- to 6-month intervals for a median period of 113 months (range 6–222). Results: HCC was detected in 22 patients and 5- and 10-year cumulative occurrence rates were 0.4 and 3.2%, respectively. In univariate analysis, age (p < 0.001), serum AFP levels (p < 0.001), and serum HBV-DNA levels (p = 0.002) at baseline were associated with HCC development. HCC occurred less frequently in biochemical responders at the end of treatment than in non-responders (p = 0.001). However, virologic response was not associated with HCC development. Multivariate analysis showed that poor biochemical response (p = 0.007) as well as older age (p = 0.018) and a higher serum AFP level (p < 0.001) remained independent predisposing factors of HCC development in CHB patients treated with IFN-α. Conclusion: The results suggest that the biochemical but not virologic response to IFN-α therapy reduces independently the occurrence of HCC in patients with CHB.

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