MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study?
Dr. Gordon: In a large American cohort of Hepatitis B patients, those who took antiviral therapy had a significantly lower risk of developing liver cancer than those who did not take such therapy.
MedicalResearch: Were any of the findings unexpected?
Dr. Gordon: Similar findings have been noted in other parts of the world, but not in american populations. In addition, this report showed that the protective effect of antiviral therapy (against developing primary liver cancer) was found not just among patients with cirrhosis, who are at greatest risk, but also among those with lesser degrees of liver fibrosis. This finding was rather unique.
MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Gordon: We know that HBV is a carcinogenic virus and there is general agreement that lowering Hepatitis B virus dna viral levels is a good thing to do clinically in order to reduce the risk of progression to cirrhosis. But now we can do so and perhaps also provide clinicians and patients with some reassurance that such treatment may also lessen the chance of developing liver cancer.
MedicalResearch: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Gordon: Prospective placebo controlled trials should help answer the question with more confidence. Realistically, however, such trials may take many years to complete, and may never be undertaken.
Stuart C. Gordon, Lois E. Lamerato, Loralee B. Rupp, Jia Li, Scott D. Holmberg, Anne C. Moorman, Philip R. Spradling, Eyasu H. Teshale, Vinutha Vijayadeva, Joseph A. Boscarino, Emily M. Henkle, Nancy Oja–Tebbe, Mei Lu. Antiviral Therapy for Chronic Hepatitis B Virus Infection and Development of Hepatocellular Carcinoma in a US Population. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 2014; 12 (5): 885 DOI: 10.1016/j.cgh.2013.09.062