Antiviral therapy reduces risk of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with hepatitis C virus-related cirrhosis

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2010 Feb;8(2):192-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2009.10.026. Epub 2009 Oct 30.


Background & aims: The effects of antiviral therapy on prevention of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related cirrhosis are unclear. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess HCC risk reduction in patients with HCV-related cirrhosis who have received antiviral therapy.

Methods: Twenty studies (4700 patients) were analyzed that compared untreated patients with those given interferon (IFN) alone or ribavirin. Risk ratios (RRs) determined effect size using a random effects model.

Results: Pooled data showed reduced HCC risk in the treatment group (RR, 0.43; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.33-0.56), although the data were heterogenous (chi(2) = 59.10). Meta-regression analysis showed that studies with follow-up durations of more than 5 years contributed to heterogeneity. Analysis of 14 studies (n = 3310) reporting sustained virologic response (SVR) rates with antiviral treatment showed reduced HCC risk in patients with an SVR, compared with nonresponders (RR, 0.35; 95% CI, 0.26-0.46); the maximum benefits were observed in patients treated with ribavirin-based regimens (RR, 0.25; 95% CI, 0.14-0.46). Meta-analysis of 4 studies assessing the role of maintenance IFN in nonresponders did not show HCC risk reduction (RR, 0.58; 95% CI, 0.33-1.03). No publication bias was detected by the Egger test analysis (P > 0.1).

Conclusions: The risk of HCC is reduced among patients with HCV who achieve an SVR with antiviral therapy. Maintenance therapy with IFN does not reduce HCC risk among patients who do not respond to initial therapy. View this article's video abstract

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / prevention & control*
  • Fibrosis / complications*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / complications*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Interferons / therapeutic use
  • Ribavirin / therapeutic use
  • Risk Assessment


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Ribavirin
  • Interferons