Background: Most hepatocellular carcinomas (HCC) arise in patients with cirrhosis, in whom its incidence is high. The prevention of HCC in patients with cirrhosis is important.
Methods: A prospective, randomized, nonblind controlled study was performed to evaluate the preventive effect of Sho-saiko-to (TJ-9) on HCC development. TJ-9 is a Chinese herbal medicine that contains crude extracts of seven herbs; it has antitumor effects in experimental animals. Two hundred sixty patients with cirrhosis were randomly assigned to two groups, matched for age, sex, presence of hepatitis B surface antigen, and the severity of liver damage. The patients in the trial group were given TJ-9 at a daily oral dose of 7.5 g in addition to the conventional drugs given to the control patients. The patients were prospectively monitored for 60 months and the cumulative incidence of HCC and the survival rate in the two groups were calculated.
Results: The cumulative incidence curve for 5 years of the trial group was lower than that of the control group (P = 0.071). For the patients without HBs antigen, the difference was significant (P = 0.024). The survival curve for 5 years of the trial group was higher than that of the control group (P = 0.053). For the patients without HBs antigen, the difference was significant (P = 0.043).
Conclusions: TJ-9 helped to prevent the development of HCC in patients with cirrhosis, particularly in patients without HBs antigen.