The risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC, the most common form of liver cancer) is higher among those with well-treated hepatitis B virus (HBV) compared with those cured of hepatitis C virus (HCV). However, in a recent study, this difference was not seen among those with cirrhosis of the liver or those who were not well treated for either virus.
Publishing their findings in the Journal of Viral Hepatology, researchers analyzed data on 2,000 people with hep B who were treated with Baraclude (entecavir) and 733 people with hep C who were treated with interferon and ribavirin (the standard treatment at the time of the study) at one hospital between 2004 and 2011.
People with hep B were considered well treated if they had a viral load below 15 after one year of Baraclude treatment; those with hep C were considered well treated if they achieved a sustained virologic response, which is considered a cure. A respective 1,520 (76 percent) and 475 (64.8 percent) of those with HBV and HCV fell into this category.
During a median follow-up of six years, 228 (11.4 percent) of those with hep B and 59 (8 percent) of those with hep C were diagnosed with liver cancer.
Compared with those with well-treated hep C, those with well-treated hep B had a 2.17-fold increased likelihood of being diagnosed with liver cancer during the follow-up period. There was no such difference in liver cancer risk between those with hep B and those with hep C if they were not well treated for either virus. Additionally, among those who started the study with cirrhosis, there was no difference in liver cancer risk based on having hep B versus hep C, even if the study members did wind up well treated for their virus.
To read the study abstract, click here.