Interferon therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma patients with low HCV-RNA levels

Shingo Miyaguchi, Tetsu Watanabe, Hiyori Takahashi, Mitsuyasu Nakamura, Hidetsugu Saito, Hiromasa Ishii

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Background/Aims: Interferon-alfa is widely used for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C, and has been thought to have a preventive effect on the development of hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatocellular carcinoma develops from chronic liver diseases such as chronic hepatitis C or liver cirrhosis. We studied the effect of interferon for liver cirrhosis with hepatocellular carcinoma after treating hepatocellular carcinoma itself. Methodology: To evaluate the preventive effect of this drug on local recurrence and/or new development of primary tumor after clearance of hepatitis C virus, 46 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma with low HCV-RNA level were randomized to receive recombinant interferon-alfa 2b (n=22) or not (n=24) after being treated by transcatheter arterial chemoembolization and percutaneous ethanol injection therapy. In the interferon-treated group, patients received 3 million international units of interferon-alfa 2b intramuscularly three times a week for 4 months. In both groups, transcatheter arterial chemoembolization followed by percutaneous ethanol injection therapy was performed as an initial treatment and these therapies were repeated every 4-6 months. Serum HCV-RNA levels of all 46 patients were under 0.5Meq/mL by branched DNA probe assay. Results: In the interferon-treated group, 11 of the 22 (50%) patients were HCV-RNA negative at the 6 months after completing the course of interferon therapy. HCV-RNA was undetectable during the observation period in 2 of the 24 (9.5%) patients in the untreated group. The survival rate in the interferon-treated group was significantly higher than that in the untreated group (P=0.01 by the log-rank test). Though there was no significant difference in the incidence of local recurrence in both groups, the incidence of secondary hepatocellular carcinoma was significantly lower in the interferon-treated group than that in the untreated group. Cox proportional hazards regression analysis validated interferon treatment as an independent predictor of hepatocellular carcinoma prognosis. Conclusions: We concluded that, if HCV-RNA level is low, interferon may be a therapy of choice in combination with transcatheter arterial chemoembolization and percutaneous ethanol injection therapy for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)724-729
Number of pages6
Issue number45
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • HCC
  • Interferon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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