Health Services Research & Development

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Ioannou GN, Beste LA, Green PK, Singal AG, Tapper EB, Waljee AK, Sterling RK, Feld JJ, Kaplan DE, Taddei TH, Berry K. Increased Risk for Hepatocellular Carcinoma Persists Up to 10 Years After HCV Eradication in Patients with Baseline Cirrhosis or High FIB-4 Scores. Gastroenterology. 2019 Jul 26.
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Abstract: BACKGROUND & AIMS: It is unclear if hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) risk declines over time after hepatitis C virus (HCV) eradication. We analyzed changes in HCC annual incidence over time following HCV eradication and identified dynamic markers of HCC risk. METHODS: We identified 48,135 patients who initiated HCV antiviral treatment from 2000 through 2015 and achieved a sustained virologic response (SVR) in the Veterans Health Administration (29,033 treated with direct-acting antiviral (DAA) agents and 19,102 treated with interferon-based regimens). Patients were followed after treatment until February 14, 2019 (average 5.4 years), during which 1509 incident HCCs were identified. RESULTS: Among patients with cirrhosis before treatment with DAAs (n=9784), those with pre-SVR fibrosis-4 (FIB-4) scores =3.25 had a higher annual incidence of HCC (3.66%/year) than those with FIB-4 scores <3.25 (1.16%/year) (adjusted hazard ratio, 2.14; 95% CI, 1.66-2.75). In DAA-treated patients with cirrhosis and FIB-4 scores =3.25, annual HCC risk decreased from 3.8%/year in the first year after SVR to 2.4%/year by the fourth year (P=.01). In interferon-treated patients with FIB-4 scores =3.25, annual HCC risk remained above 2%/year, even 10 years after SVR. A decrease in FIB-4 scores from =3.25 pre-SVR to <3.25 post-SVR was associated with an approximately 50% lower risk of HCC, but the absolute annual risk remained above 2%/year. Patients without cirrhosis before treatment (n=38,351) had a low risk of HCC, except for those with pre-SVR FIB-4 scores =3.25 (HCC risk 1.22%/year) and post-SVR FIB-4 scores=3.25 (HCC risk 2.39%/year)-risk remained high for many years after SVR. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with cirrhosis before an SVR to treatment for HCV infection continue to have a high risk for HCC (>2%/year) for many years, even if their FIB-4 score decreases, and should continue surveillance. Patients without cirrhosis but with FIB-4 scores =3.25 have a high enough risk to merit HCC surveillance, especially if FIB-4 remains =3.25 post-SVR.