Background & aims: Hepatitis B virus reactivation is a serious cause of morbidity and mortality in hepatitis B surface antigen-positive patients treated with chemotherapy. We compared the efficacy of early and deferred preemptive lamivudine therapy in reducing the incidence of hepatitis due to hepatitis B virus reactivation in hepatitis B surface antigen-positive lymphoma patients treated with chemotherapy.
Methods: Thirty consecutive hepatitis B surface antigen-positive lymphoma patients undergoing intensive chemotherapy were randomized (1:1) to receive lamivudine 100 mg daily 1 week before chemotherapy (group 1) or to have this treatment deferred until there was serological evidence of hepatitis B virus reactivation on the basis of serial 2-week-interval serum hepatitis B virus DNA monitoring by a Digene Hybrid Capture II assay (group 2).
Results: Eight (53%) patients in group 2 and none in group 1 had hepatitis B virus virological reactivation after chemotherapy (P = 0.002). Seven patients in group 2 still had hepatitis (5 anicteric hepatitis, 1 icteric hepatitis, and 1 hepatic failure). Survival free from hepatitis due to hepatitis B virus reactivation in group 1 patients was significantly longer than that in group 2 (P = 0.002 on the log-rank test). The median onset of hepatitis B virus reactivation in these patients was 16 weeks (range, 4-36 weeks) after the initiation of chemotherapy. Three (13%) of the 23 patients treated with lamivudine had hepatitis B virus-related hepatitis after lamivudine withdrawal.
Conclusions: Lamivudine should be considered preemptively before or at the initiation of chemotherapy for all hepatitis B surface antigen-positive lymphoma patients undergoing intense chemotherapy.