Background: The long-term effect of sustained virologic response (SVR) to antiviral therapy on the risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), liver complications, liver-related death, and overall death in hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infected patients with liver cirrhosis is not fully known.
Methods: These risks were evaluated during long-term follow-up in 351 patients with HCV-related cirrhosis. One hundred ten patients with SVR, 193 with non-SVR, and 48 who were untreated were included in a multicenter cohort that was initiated in 2001 and prospectively followed up for a mean of 5.3 (SD, 2.8) years. Complementary follow-up data from national registries were used to minimize the loss of patients during follow-up.
Results: Six patients with SVR developed HCC at 0.04, 0.64, 2.4, 7.4, 7.4, and 7.6 years, respectively, after achieving SVR. The incidences of HCC, any liver complication, liver-related death, and overall death per 100 person-years were significantly lower in SVR time with 1.0, 0.9, 0.7, and 1.9, compared to 2.3, 3.2, 3.0, and 4.1 in non-SVR and 4.0, 4.9, 4.5, and 5.1 in untreated time. The long-term consequences did not decline significantly after >3 years versus during the first 3 years of follow-up.
Conclusions: The risk for HCC, liver decompensation, and death in patients with liver cirrhosis related to HCV was markedly reduced after SVR, but a long-term risk of developing HCC remains for up to 8 years. Cirrhotic patients with HCV who achieve SVR should therefore maintain long-term surveillance for HCC. Future studies aimed to better identify those with remaining long-term risk for HCC are needed.
Keywords: complications; hepatocellular carcinoma; liver decompensation; liver-related death; sustained virologic response.