Objectives: Although the incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has been shown to be reduced after interferon (IFN) monotherapy in chronic hepatitis C, the risk factors for the development of HCC have not been fully understood. The aim of this study is to investigate the risk factors for the development of HCC after IFN in chronic hepatitis C as well as whether the incidence of HCC will be reduced by ribavirin and IFN combination therapy or not.
Methods: 495 patients with chronic hepatitis C and which received IFN monotherapy were followed and the incidence and risk factors for the development of HCC were examined. On the other hand, in the patients which received ribavirin and IFN combination therapy, the sustained response rate was assessed and the reduction rate of HCC development was predicted.
Results: Multivariate analysis by the Cox proportional hazard model revealed that the risk factors for HCC development were age, male gender, severe fibrosis and outcome of IFN therapy. On ribavirin and IFN combination therapy, the sustained response rate reached 17.3% in genotype 1b and 74% in genotypes 2a and 2b infection, thus reducing 20% of the estimated incidence of HCC.
Conclusion: To reduce the incidence of HCC in chronic hepatitis C, improvement of the sustained response rate is an essential issue, and ribavirin and IFN combination therapy shows to be promising.