It’s a new era when it comes to chronic hepatitis C infection. Most Americans infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) will be treated with direct-acting antiviral medications and be cured of this disease. Achieving sustained viral response (SVR) – in other words being cured of this liver disease – has never been easier (in terms of treatment length and side effects) or more effective for patients who maintain medication adherence.
Hepatitis C brings a well-known increased risk of liver cancer to those with this infection. It can take decades of HCV infection before cancerous changes occur in the liver; in addition, this liver cancer risk is generally only present in patients who have developed cirrhosis. However, the future risk of liver cancer is an ominous specter for HCV patients.
Treatment with direct-acting antivirals, in those who achieve SVR, drops the risk of future liver cancer by an astounding 71%, compared to HCV-infected individuals who are not treated or do not achieve SVR. This new and positive statistic comes from a group of researchers who tracked 62,354 HCV-infected individuals over 16 years at the Veterans Affairs national healthcare system.
Previously, some experts in the HCV field questioned whether direct-acting antivirals could actually increase liver cancer risk after treatment conclusion. This large study does not support that position – in fact, it finds the opposite to be true. Treating hepatitis C with direct-acting antivirals brings a high rate of cure for HCV while also drastically reducing the future risk of liver cancer.
There are now multiple options of direct-acting antivirals available. BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy has available the HCV Treatment Path app, which offers prescribers guidelines and tools to streamline the selection of the hepatitis C treatment that is best-suited to individual patients, based on criteria from experts such as the FDA and the AASLD (American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases). The treatment landscape for this disease is under continual change and this app keeps the latest information easily accessible.
Learn more about the HCV Treatment Path App here.
Ioannou GN, Green PK, Berry K. HCV eradication induced by direct-acting antiviral agents reduces the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma. J Hepatol 2017 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/