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Virological suppression does not prevent the development of hepatocellular carcinoma in HBeAg-negative chronic hepatitis B patients with cirrhosis receiving oral antiviral(s) starting with lamivudine monotherapy: results of the nationwide HEPNET. Greece cohort study

Abstract

Objective To evaluate the risk and predictors of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in HBeAg-negative chronic hepatitis B patients of the large HEPNET.Greece cohort study who received long-term oral antivirals starting with lamivudine monotherapy.

Design Retrospective analysis of HCC incidence in HBeAg-negative chronic hepatitis B patients from a retrospective–prospective cohort who were treated with nucleos(t)ide analogue(s) starting with lamivudine monotherapy for ≥12 months.

Setting A nationwide network of liver centres.

Patients 818 patients were included: 517 with chronic hepatitis B only; 160 with compensated cirrhosis; 56 with decompensated cirrhosis; 85 with unclassified disease severity.

Interventions All patients were treated with nucleos(t)ide analogue(s) starting with lamivudine monotherapy.

Main outcome measures Development of HCC.

Results During a median follow-up of 4.7 years, HCC developed in 49 (6.0%) patients. The 5-year cumulative incidence of HCC was higher in patients with cirrhosis than in those with chronic hepatitis B only (11.5% vs 3.2%, respectively; p<0.001). HCC developed in 0.7%, 6.7% and 11.7% of patients <50, 50–60 and >60 years old, respectively (p<0.001). Virological on-therapy remission did not significantly affect the incidence of HCC in all patients or those with cirrhosis, but it showed a trend for lower HCC incidence in patients with chronic hepatitis B only (p=0.076). In multivariate analysis, age, gender and cirrhosis were independently associated with HCC risk regardless of virological remission.

Conclusions Long-term therapy with nucleos(t)ide analogue(s) starting with lamivudine monotherapy does not eliminate HCC risk in HBeAg-negative chronic hepatitis B. The risk of HCC is particularly high in patients with cirrhosis, who should remain under HCC surveillance even during effective therapy. Older age and male gender remain independent risk factors for HCC, while virological on-therapy remission does not seem to significantly reduce the overall incidence of HCC.

  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • chronic hepatitis B
  • cirrhosis
  • nucleos(t)ide analogues
  • lamivudine
  • virological remission
  • antiviral therapy
  • cirrhosis
  • hepatitis B
  • hepatocellular carcinoma
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