BACKGROUND: In HCV-infected cirrhotic patients with successfully treated early hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the time to HCC recurrence and the effects of sustained viral eradication (SVR) by interferon (IFN)-based or IFN-free regimens on HCC recurrence remain unclear. AIM: To perform an indirect comparison of time to recurrence (TTR) in patients with successfully treated early HCC and active HCV infection with those of patients with SVR by IFN-based and by IFN-free regimens. METHODS: We evaluated 443 patients with HCV-related cirrhosis and Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer Stage A/0 HCC who had a complete radiological response after curative resection or ablation. Active HCV infection was present in 328, selected from the Italian Liver Cancer group cohort; 58 patients had SVR achieved by IFN-free regimens after HCC cure, and 57 patients had SVR achieved by IFN-based regimens after HCC cure. Individual data of patients in the last two groups were extracted from available publications. RESULTS: TTR by Kaplan-Meier curve was significantly lower in patients with active HCV infection compared with those with SVR both by IFN-free (P = 0.02) and by IFN-based (P < 0.001) treatments. TTR was similar in patients with SVR by IFN-free or by IFN-based (P = 0.49) strategies. CONCLUSION: In HCV-infected, successfully treated patients with early HCC, SVR obtained by IFN-based or IFN-free regimens significantly reduce tumour recurrence without differences related to the anti-viral strategy used.
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