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A study confirms the safety of hepatitis C medicines in patients with liver cancer

Tuesday, February 12, 2019 (HealthDay News) – It is safe to use antiviral medicines to treat hepatitis C in surviving liver cancer, a new study said.

The findings contradict earlier studies that suggest that antiviral medicines can increase the risk of liver cancer recurrence in these patients.

This previous study included a one-cent study by Spanish researchers in 2016 that "it has won a lot of press and caused fear of treating patients with liver cancer for hepatitis C," said Dr. Amit Singl. He is the medical director of the liver tumor program at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

"Based on these new data, providers can feel confident that it is safe to cure hepatitis C in these patients and enable them to get the known benefits of hepatitis C therapy," said Single in a center message.

For the new study, the researchers examined the medical records of patients who had been successfully treated for liver cancer in 31 medical centers in North America. The researchers compared liver cancer recurrences in those who were and did not receive directly acting antiviral drugs, such as Harvoni or Sovaldi, for hepatitis C.

The rate of recurrence of cancer was 42% among those who received antiviral drugs and 59% among those who did not receive the drug – there was no significant difference, according to the authors of the study.

Researchers also said that among patients with relapse, there is no difference in the aggressiveness of cancer between the two groups.

The study was recently published in the journal gastroenterology,

About 3.2 million people in the US have a chronic hepatitis C infection. Effective antiviral medicines exist for their treatment since 2013.

Chronic hepatitis C infection is the leading cause of liver cancer, and half of patients with liver cancer have chronic hepatitis C infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States.

"Our results show that the use of directly acting antiviral therapies is safe and potentially useful in hepatitis C infected patients with a history of liver cancer," Singal concludes.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more for hepatitis C.

SOURCE: Southwest Medical Center UT, press release, January 18, 2019

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