Research Article| Volume 70, ISSUE 1, P78-86, January 2019

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Impact of direct-acting antivirals on early recurrence of HCV-related HCC: Comparison with interferon-based therapy

Published:October 15, 2018DOI:


      • There was no significant difference in the early HCC recurrence rate and pattern between IFN-based and DAA therapy.
      • High AFP-L3, short recurrence-free period, and history of multiple HCC treatments were risk factors for early recurrence.
      • Eradication of HCV after curative HCC treatments could preserve liver function, regardless of antiviral therapy regimen.

      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.

      Lay summary

      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.

      Graphical abstract


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      Author names in bold designate shared co-first authorship

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