Background and aim: Screenings for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and antiviral prophylaxis are recommended for HBsAg-positive patients before the start of cytotoxic chemotherapy; however, compliance with these recommendations varies among doctors. We investigated the compliance of doctors with these recommendations using a reminder system and assessed the outcomes of HBsAg-positive patients receiving cytotoxic chemotherapy.
Methods: Using a computer-assisted reminder system, doctors were alerted of both HBsAg screening and antiviral prophylaxis prior to prescribing chemotherapy. The compliance between different doctors and outcomes of patients were investigated during the period of execution of this system. The rates of compliance with both recommendations were compared among various cancer types.
Results: A total of 1053 patients were enrolled, of which only 88 had previous data pertaining to HBsAg status. Using this reminder system, an overall screening rate of 85.5% (825/965) was achieved and did not significantly differ according to cancer type. However, the overall antiviral prophylactic rate was only 45.5% (61/134). The rates of antiviral prophylaxis were lower for doctors treating lung, breast and colorectal cancers than for those treating hematological malignancies (all p<0.05). Consequently, the rate of HBV reactivation was lower in patients who received antiviral prophylaxis than in those who did not (1.6% vs. 15.1%; p<0.01). Multivariate analysis revealed that male gender and antiviral prophylaxis were both related to reactivation of hepatitis B (p<0.05).
Conclusions: By using this reminder system, the overall screening rate for HBsAg was satisfactory, whereas the antiviral prophylaxis was inadequate in patients with solid tumors due to the varying compliance of the attending doctors. Further strategies to improve both screening and prophylaxis are needed to minimize HBV-related events during cytotoxic chemotherapy.