Background/aims: Reactivation of hepatitis B virus (HBV) replication is a well-known complication in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. The aims of this study were to determine the incidence of HBV reactivation in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients undergoing transarterial chemo-lipiodolization, and to clarify factors contributing to HBV reactivation.
Methods: From April 2001 to September 2002, 146 HBsAg positive patients newly diagnosed as HCC were enrolled in the study. Among these, 83 patients underwent transarterial chemo-lipiodolization using epirubicin and/or cisplatin, and 63 received other treatments.
Results: In total, HBV reactivation occurred in 30 (20.5%) patients (28 with chemo-lipiodolization and 2 with other treatments), and of the 30 patients, 19 (13.0%) (18 with chemo-lipiodolization and 1 with other treatments) developed hepatitis. Chemo-lipiodolization was significantly correlated with a higher incidence of hepatitis attributed to HBV reactivation than other treatments (21.7% vs. 1.6%, P<0.001), irrespective of HBeAg or HBV DNA. Among 83 patients undergoing chemo-lipiodolization, HBV reactivation occurred in 28 (33.7%) patients, and HBeAg seropositivity was the only independent predictor of HBV reactivation (P=0.013). Three (10.7%) of them died of hepatic decompensation resulting from HBV reactivation.
Conclusions: Transarterial chemo-lipiodolization can reactivate HBV, and HBeAg-positive HCC patients receiving chemo-lipiodolization should be closely monitored for HBV reactivation.