BACKGROUND & AIMS:
It remains controversial whether direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) accelerate the recurrence of hepatitis C-related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) after curative therapy. This study aimed to evaluate HCC recurrence after DAA treatment of chronic hepatitis C.
We enrolled patients with a history of successful radiofrequency ablation treatment for hepatitis C-related HCC who received antiviral therapy with DAAs (DAA group: 147 patients) or with interferon (IFN)-based therapy (IFN group: 156 patients). We assessed HCC recurrence rates from the initiation of antiviral therapy using the Kaplan-Meier method and evaluated risk factors for HCC recurrence by multivariate Cox proportional hazard regression analysis. The recurrence pattern was categorized as follows: intrahepatic recurrence with a single tumor <2 cm (stage 0), a single tumor or up to 3 tumors ≤3 cm (stage A), multinodular (stage B), and extrahepatic metastasis or macrovascular invasion (stage C).
The recurrence rates at 1 and 2 years were 39% and 61% in the IFN group and 39% and 60% in the DAA group, respectively (p = 0.43). Multivariate analysis identified higher lens culinaris agglutinin-reactive fraction of alpha-fetoprotein level, a history of multiple HCC treatments, and a shorter interval between HCC treatment and initiation of antiviral therapy as independent risk factors for HCC recurrence. HCC recurrence in stage 0, A, B, and C was found in 56 (41%), 60 (44%), 19 (14%), and 1 (0.7%) patients in the IFN group and 35 (44%), 32 (40%), 11 (14%), and 2 (2.5%) patients in the DAA group, respectively (p = 0.70).
HCC recurrence rates and patterns after initiation of antiviral therapy did not differ between patients who received IFN-based therapy and DAA therapy.
We detected no significant difference in early hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) recurrence rates and patterns between patients who received interferon-based and direct-acting antiviral therapy after HCC treatment. High lens culinaris agglutinin-reactive fraction of alpha-fetoprotein level, short recurrence-free period, and a history of multiple HCC treatments were independent risk factors for early HCC recurrence after the initiation of antiviral therapy.