Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Liver Cancer After Treatment For Hepatitis C

Page updated: March 15, 2017

Liver Cancer After Treatment For Hepatitis C
Research demonstrates that while SVR markedly reduced liver-related complications and liver cancer, some long-term risk for liver cancer remained in those who were cured of Hepatitis C. But after direct-acting antiviral therapy does the risk of developing liver cancer increase?

This collection of research articles is updated as information is made available, accessed from online journals, media articles, and conferences with some articles overlapping.

March 15, 2017
Hepatitis C-related hepatocellular carcinoma in the era of new generation antivirals
Abstract
Hepatitis C virus infection is a major cause of hepatocellular carcinoma worldwide. Interferon has been the major antiviral treatment, yielding viral clearance in approximately half of patients. New direct-acting antivirals substantially improved the cure rate to above 90%. However, access to therapies remains limited due to the high costs and under-diagnosis of infection in specific subpopulations, e.g., baby boomers, inmates, and injection drug users, and therefore, hepatocellular carcinoma incidence is predicted to increase in the next decades even in high-resource countries. Moreover, cancer risk persists even after 10 years of viral cure, and thus a clinical strategy for its monitoring is urgently needed. Several risk-predictive host factors, e.g., advanced liver fibrosis, older age, accompanying metabolic diseases such as diabetes, persisting hepatic inflammation, and elevated alpha-fetoprotein, as well as viral factors, e.g., core protein variants and genotype 3, have been reported. Indeed, a molecular signature in the liver has been associated with cancer risk even after viral cure. Direct-acting antivirals may affect cancer development and recurrence, which needs to be determined in further investigation.
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Feb 27, 2017
People with HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) co-infection who are successfully treated for hepatitis C using interferon-free direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy do not appear to have an increased likelihood of developing hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), according to a study presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2017) this month in Seattle.

Accepted Manuscript
Gastroenterology Accepted Date: 23 January 2017
Genome-wide Association Study Identifies TLL1 Variant Associated With Development of Hepatocellular Carcinoma After Eradication of Hepatitis C Virus Infection

Media Coverage of this Article
Feb 22, 2017
Genetic variant linked to risk of liver cancer after hep C eradication
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – A single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the tolloid-like 1 (TLL1) gene is associated with the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) after eradication of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, researchers from Japan report.
“When we constructed different models for predicting HCC in patients with mild as opposed to advanced hepatic fibrosis by combining this TLL1 variant with other distinct risk factors, these proposed models including TLL1 variant could be useful for predicting the occurrence of HCC after achieving sustained virological response (SVR) in the clinical practice,” Dr. Yasuhito Tanaka from Nagoya City University Graduate School of Medical Sciences told Reuters Health by email.
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Feb 8, 2017
High Rates of Hepatocellular Carcinoma After Hepatitis C Treatment
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Patients treated with direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy for hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related cirrhosis appear to have high rates of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

"If these findings are confirmed from other centers, studies are suggested to examine mechanisms of these findings," Dr. Ashwani Singal from University of Alabama at Birmingham told Reuters Health by email.

Some studies have shown unexpectedly high HCC recurrence rates after DAA therapy, whereas others have shown no such association.

Dr. Singal and colleagues examined the occurrence of de novo HCC in their retrospective study of 66 patients with HCV-related cirrhosis who received DAA between 2015 and 2016.

Typically, patients with HCV cirrhosis have an HCC incidence of 3%-5% per year, the researchers say.

But six of these patients (9.1%) developed HCC during or within six months after treatment, and two additional patients (3%) developed indeterminate liver lesions, according to their letter online February 1st in Gastroenterology.

They note that another study showed a reduced risk of HCC occurrence among DAA-treated patients who achieved sustained viral responses (SVR) versus those not achieving SVR, so they suggest prospective multicenter studies to confirm these findings.

"Be aware of this potential issue and consider more intensive HCC surveillance of HCV cirrhotics during and after HCV therapy," Dr. Singal concluded.

Dr. Gaetano Serviddio from University of Foggia, Italy, who has reported on the outcomes of DAA therapy, told Reuters Health by email, "DAAs have completely changed the prognosis of chronic hepatitis C patients who have a unique possibility to be cured definitively. To discover that such drugs have some tumor risks is particularly terrible. In any case, the number of events is small, and the data are not enough to support the hypothesis that the risk is directly related to the drugs."

"DAAs are safe and powerful drugs; millions of lives will be saved with such drugs," he said. "Studies should be supported to completely define patients at risk of HCC recurrence."
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/2lmDbXa
Gastroenterol 2017.

January 2017
In Press, Corrected Proof
Digestive and Liver Disease
Available online 21 January 2017
HCV clearance by direct antiviral therapy and occurrence/recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma: A “true-or-false game”
Three years ago, the new direct antiviral therapies (DAAs) were approved for HCV treatment and the scenario completely changed. The share of patients in whom eradication is obtained raised to over 90% [7], the limits in the stage of the disease that can be treated disappeared, but solid data on the long-term outcome of cirrhotics treated with these new drugs are lacking.

A totally unexpected, intriguing and somehow hard-to-believe report of an increased incidence of HCC with rapid recurrence after HCV eradication with DAAs was first presented at the 2016 EASL meeting and then published in the Journal of Hepatology.....
Continue to full text article...

2016
AASLD 2016 and International Liver Congress 2016
Two studies presented at The Liver Meeting® 2016, and research presented in April at the International Liver Congress 2016.

Patients With HCV Who Treated With Interferon-based Therapy  
We begin with a study presented at AASLD 2016; The impact of sustained virological response to HCV infection on long term risk of hepatocellular carcinoma: the BC Hepatitis Testers Cohort, that suggested patients achieving SVR were still at risk for hepatocellular carcinoma, more specifically older patients and those with cirrhosis, commentary on the study is available over at Healio; SVR post–interferon-based therapy reduces, not eliminates risk for HCC, below is a summary of the study followed by slides @ NATAP 

Liver cancer risk reduced in patients cured of HCV
A large study found that the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma was reduced by 80% in people cured of HCV compared to those who were not cured.

This was a study of the entire population of people treated for HCV in British Columbia province, Canada, between 1990 and 2013. The study identified 8147 people treated with interferon-based regimens, 57% of whom were cured. Treated individuals were followed for a median of 5.6 years.

The liver cancer incidence was highest among those with cirrhosis who did not achieve a SVR (21 cases per 1000 patient-years of follow-up). In comparison, the liver cancer incidence was 6.4 per 1000 patient-years in those with cirrhosis who achieved SVR, 7.2 in those without cirrhosis who did not achieve SVR12 and 1.1 per 1000 patient-years in those without cirrhosis who achieved SVR12.

In a multivariable analysis liver cancer was associated with cirrhosis, age over 50 years, genotype three infection versus genotype one, alcohol consumption and being male in those who were not cured. In those who were cured of hepatitis C, only cirrhosis, age over 50 and being male were associated with an increased risk of liver cancer.

The researchers concluded that although curing HCV greatly reduces the risk of developing liver cancer, it does not eliminate the risk entirely. Older people and those with cirrhosis are at higher risk than others, underlining the importance of early diagnosis and treatment.

Reference
The impact of sustained virological response to HCV infection on long term risk of hepatocellular carcinoma: the BC Hepatitis Testers Cohort. Janjua NZ et al. The 67th Meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, Boston 2016. Abstract 175
Summary Source - https://www.basl.org.uk/

Review Slides

Patients With HCV Who Treated With Oral DAAs
In a prospective study presented at the 2016 AASLD; Incidence and pattern of "de novo" hepatocellular carcinoma in HCV patients treated with oral DAAs, reported that treatment with direct-acting antiviral therapy did not increase the risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with HCV, but patients with advanced liver disease should continue to be monitored for liver cancer after treatment, here is the AASLD press release, followed by slides @ NATAP.

AASLD Press Release;
AASLD 2016 - Is There an Increased Risk of Cancer After Taking Direct-Acting Antiviral Medication?
BOSTON, Nov. 11, 2016
A new study presented this week at The Liver Meeting® — held by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases — found patients with hepatitis C who take direct-acting antiviral medication are at no higher risk for developing liver cancer than those who do not take the medication. However, they might be at an increased for more aggressive, infiltrative patterns of cancer, should they develop it.

"Data on clinical outcomes in cirrhotic patients with hepatitis C treated with direct-acting antiviral agents (DAAs) are still scanty and somehow controversial, and this is particularly true for development of a liver cancer, one of the most frequent and deadly complications of the disease," says Alfredo Alberti; professor of gastroenterology at University of Padova in Padova, Italy, and lead investigator in the study.

Recent studies have suggested the possibility of increased risk of developing liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma, or HCC) during and after DAA treatment in patients with hepatitis C (HCV). Dr. Alberti's team recently looked at the incidence of new cases of liver cancer among 3,075 HCV patients with advanced liver disease who were treated with DAAs. Almost 70 percent of the patients studied were men, and nearly 86 percent had cirrhosis (scarring of the liver). HCV genotypes one through four were all represented in the study, and patients with a past history of liver cancer were excluded.

All participants were treated with oral DAA therapy and monitored monthly. At the time of Dr. Alberti's team's analysis, patients had an average follow up of nearly 305 days from the time they started DAA therapy. During this period, the researchers found 41 patients had developed liver cancer, and the overall incidence (per 100 patient years) was 1.64.

Dr. Alberti's team further noted an incidence rate of 0.23 in patients without cirrhosis and of 1.93 in those with cirrhosis (1.93 for men and 1.94 for women). Incidence rates varied among HCV genotypes as well, with HCV-1 at the low end (1.70) and HCV-3 at the high end (2.44). Finally, cirrhotic patients with a Child-Pugh score of 'A' had an incidence rate of 1.64 and those with more advanced disease and a score of 'B' had a rate of 2.92.

"These rate incidences were not significantly different from those observed in historical control cohorts of similar patients from the same geographic area, not receiving antiviral therapy, indicating that the risk of developing HCC is not increased by oral DAAs, being closely dependent on stage of disease as in untreated cases," says Dr. Alberti.

Liver cancer was diagnosed four weeks after starting DAA therapy in three patients, at week eight in three patients, week 12 in six patients, between week 12 and 24 in thirteen patients, and after treatment ended in sixteen patients. Fifty percent of patients who developed liver cancer developed a single nodular cancer with a typical vascular pattern, while 50 percent had a more aggressive pattern. Finally, 28 out of the 41 patients who developed cancer were successfully cured of HCV (reaching a sustained virological response at 12 weeks), while the remaining 13 relapsed.

In different analyses of the data, Dr. Alberti's team found elevated liver enzymes and low platelet count to be associated with liver cancer risk, while gender, age, HCV genotype and DAA regimen were not. The best baseline predictor of liver cancer risk was APRI scores (which calculate scarring in the liver). The researchers find the risk of developing liver cancer increased linearly by 10 percent at each one-point increase in APRI value.

"The results of this study, while confirming that DAAs treatment doesn't increase the overall risk of HCC, indicate that there is no pharmacological prevention of HCC even with successful antiviral therapy, at least during the first six to 12 months after initiation of treatment when microscopic and therefore initially invisible HCC foci might even be boosted in their growth as consequence of the profound immunological and molecular changes in the liver microenvironment following abrupt cessation of HCV replication," explains Dr. Alberti. "Therefore, it is mandatory that patients treated with DAAs with advanced liver disease should continue to be monitored for HCC."

This release contains updated data. Dr. Alberti will present these findings at AASLD's press conference in Room 313 at John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center in Boston on Saturday, November 12 at 4pm. The study entitled "Incidence and pattern of "de novo" hepatocellular carcinoma in HCV patients treated with oral DAAs" will be presented by Antonietta Romano, MD in Ballroom A on Sunday, November 13 at 10am. The corresponding abstract (number 19) can be found in the journal, Hepatology – Special Issue: The 67th Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases: The Liver Meeting 2016.

View the slides @ NATAP Reported by Jules Levin

Another look at both studies;  Incidence and pattern of `de novo` hepatocellular carcinoma in HCV patients treated with oral DAAs and The impact of sustained virological response to HCV infection on long term risk of hepatocellular carcinoma: the BC Hepatitis Testers Cohort.

Keith Alcorn
People who are cured of hepatitis C after a course of direct-acting antiviral treatment do not have a higher risk of developing liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma), and probably have a reduced risk, studies from Italy and Canada presented at The Liver Meeting this week in Boston have shown. However, Italian researchers also found that those people who did develop liver cancer during or shortly after antiviral treatment were more likely to develop an aggressive form of liver cancer, perhaps because of changes in immune surveillance in the liver as a result of treatment.

Patients With HCV And History Of Liver Cancer Who Treated With New Antivirals
As a reference point two studies presented in April at the International Liver Congress 2016 found; patients with a history of hepatocellular carcinoma have the highest risk of developing a tumor after direct-acting antiviral therapy, but new diagnoses were also reported. ​​Read the report; Liver Cancer Found in Hepatitis C Patients on New Antivirals provided below, or over at Medscape.

Liver Cancer Found in Hepatitis C Patients on New Antivirals
Kate Johnson
April 15, 2016
BARCELONA, Spain — In a surprising number of patients with hepatitis C and cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma develops within weeks of starting treatment with direct-acting antivirals, new research suggests.

"I do not think that direct-acting antivirals are directly responsible," said lead investigator Stefano Brillanti, MD, from the University of Bologna, Italy.

"The hypothesis is that immune surveillance may be reduced too rapidly," he told Medscape Medical News. "You have an immediate drop in viremia, but also attenuation of inflammation. I think inflammation is a bad thing in terms of hepatitis progression, but it may be a good thing in terms of controlling cancer."

The study by Dr Brillanti's team, presented here at the International Liver Congress 2016, suggests that patients with hepatitis C should be closely monitored after treatment with direct-acting antivirals. Two days earlier, a study conducted by a team from the University of Barcelona in Spain suggested the same thing (J Hepatol. Published online April 12, 2016).

Both studies indicate that patients with a history of hepatocellular carcinoma have the highest risk of developing a tumor after direct-acting antiviral therapy, but new diagnoses were also reported.

The EMA has extended the scope of its review of the six direct-acting antivirals approved for use in the European Union for the treatment of chronic hepatitis  C infection to include the risk for early liver cancer recurrence, the agency reported.

Tumor Risk
"Patients with previous hepatocellular carcinoma are, of course, at risk of recurrence anyway," Dr Brillanti said. "A 30% rate over 3 years from initial surgery or ablation is normal. What was surprising to us was that we were observing 4 cm lesions after 12 weeks."

The retrospective cohort study involved 344 consecutive patients with hepatitis C and cirrhosis who were treated with one or two direct-acting antivirals and followed for 24 weeks after therapy. Median age was 63 years.
In this cohort, 237 patients were infected with hepatitis C genotype 1, 191 had received previous antiviral treatment, and 59 had been successfully treated for hepatocellular carcinoma.

Contrast-enhanced ultrasonography and CT scans or MRIs were performed at baseline to exclude active hepatocellular carcinoma, and then again 12 and 24 weeks after treatment.
During the follow-up period, 26 of the 344 patients (7.6%) were diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma. This included 17 of the 59 patients previously treated for hepatocellular carcinoma, and nine of the 285 patients (3.2%) with no history of carcinoma.

There was no association between recurrence and hepatitis C genotype, direct-acting antiviral regimen, or treatment response for patients who did not develop hepatocellular carcinoma or for those who did. The sustained viral response rate at 12 weeks was 89% in the two groups.
For patients with a history of hepatocellular carcinoma, those who developed a recurrence were significantly younger than those who did not (56 vs 73 years), were more frequently treatment-experienced (88.2% vs 61.9%), and had more advanced liver fibrosis at baseline.

More patients who developed hepatocellular carcinoma during the follow-up period, regardless of history, had advanced cirrhosis than those who did not, indicated by a Child-Pugh class B score (26.9% vs 10.1%; P =.02). They also had more liver stiffness, indicated by a measure above 21.3 Kpa (61.5% vs 31.8%; P = .005), and fewer platelets at baseline (102.3 vs 124.4 × 1000/mm³; P = .02).

Second Study
In the Spanish study, all 58 hepatitis C patients had a history of hepatocellular carcinoma (with complete radiologic response), and all but three were cirrhotic at the start of direct-acting antiviral therapy. After a median follow-up of 5.7 months, the rate of tumor recurrence was 27.6%, with a median time to recurrence of 3.5 months. The sustained viral response rate at 12 weeks was 97.5%.

In their publication, the Spanish authors note that these findings "raise a concern about the benefits" of direct-acting antiviral therapy in the subgroup of hepatitis C patients with a history of hepatocellular carcinoma. Although the therapies "offer a major hope for current and future patients, we may face a drawback that may change these predictions in specific groups of patients," they point out.

Dr Brillanti said he is less concerned. "Clones of the hepatocellular carcinoma were present before the therapy," he pointed out, suggesting that direct-acting antivirals simply accelerated their inevitable progression. Either way, he said, an increased risk for hepatocellular carcinoma should not deter clinicians or patients from pursuing treatment with direct-acting antivirals when it is needed.

"This is a different cancer than elsewhere in oncology — it is a cancer within an advanced chronic disease — so the prognosis, the life expectancy, is related not only to the liver cancer but also to the liver disease and liver function," he explained. "If you don't treat these patients and ameliorate their liver function, and if hepatocellular carcinoma occurs, you have no chance of curing them. But if you ameliorate liver function and they develop hepatocellular carcinoma, you can cure it better because their improved liver function will allow an ablation."

This finding is "quite striking and unexpected, but we have to be cautious," said Laurent Castera, MD, PhD, from Hôpital Beaujon in Clichy, France, who is vice-secretary of the European Association for the Study of the Liver, and was not involved with the research.

"It is potentially worrying, but these are retrospective studies, with possible referral bias, and no long-term follow-up," he told Medscape Medical News.

Dr Brillanti reports receiving research grants from Gilead Sciences and being on the advisory board for Janssen and Gilead Sciences. Dr Castera reports serving on the speaker's bureau for Echosens.
International Liver Congress (ILC) 2016: Abstract LBP506. Presented April 14, 2016.
Source - Medscape

Of Interest
Risk of liver cancer low in patients with cirrhosis, study finds
01 Feb 2017
The results of a study by researchers at The University of Nottingham suggest that the risk of liver cancer in patients with cirrhosis may be much lower than previously thought.

Liver cancer – or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) – is one of the most serious complications of cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver, caused by long-term liver damage.

However, an analysis of health records, published in the academic journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, found that the 10-year incidence of HCC in UK patients with cirrhosis is actually only four per cent, or lower.

Joe West, Professor of Epidemiology in the University’s School of Medicine, led the study and believes that the results could better inform doctors on how best to focus resources for the benefit of patients with liver damage.

He said: “This very low incidence of HCC occurrence in people with cirrhosis caused by alcohol or of unknown origin suggests that surveillance for HCC among these groups is likely to benefit patients little.

“As surveillance incurs substantial cost, it is therefore unlikely to represent value for money for the NHS. There may well be other ways of spending this money that would benefit patients far more.”

Cirrhosis is caused by long-term damage to the liver, which leads to a build-up of scar tissue which replaces healthy tissue and eventually can result in liver failure.

The researchers identified more than 3,000 patients with cirrhosis of the liver using the UK’s General Practice Research Database between 1987 and 2006 and then cross-referenced this information with diagnoses of HCC on linked national cancer registries.

The study found that only 1.2 per cent of patients with alcoholic cirrhosis and 1.1 per cent of patients with cirrhosis of unknown cause will develop HCC within a decade. The highest 10-year incidence of HCC was among those with cirrhosis due to chronic viral hepatitis (four per cent).
http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/news/pressreleases/2017/january/risk-of-liver-cancer-low-in-patients-with-cirrhosis-study-finds.aspx

Of Interest
March 12, 2017
Hepatocellular Carcinoma Decreases the Chance of Successful Hepatitis C Virus Therapy with Direct-Acting Antivirals

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