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Direct-acting antiviral agents and risk of Hepatocellular carcinoma: Critical appraisal of the evidence

  • Authors: Celsa, C.; Stornello, C.; Giuffrida, P.; Giacchetto, C.M.; Grova, M.; Rancatore, G.; Pitrone, C.; Di Marco, V.; Camma', C.; Cabibbo, G.
  • Publication year: 2022
  • Type: Articolo in rivista
  • OA Link:


Direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) revolutionized the treatment of chronic HCV-related disease achieving high rates of sustained virological response (SVR), even in advanced cirrhosis, with modest contraindications and a low rate of adverse events. However, the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) persists due to the underlying chronic liver disease, both in patients with and without history of HCC. Although some initial studies reported a presumptive high risk of HCC development after DAA therapy, more recent observational studies denied this hypothesis. The residual risk for HCC occurrence after HCV eradication seems being progressively reduced with time after SVR. Data on recurrence of HCC after DAA exposure in patients with previously treated carcinoma initially reported conflicting results too, this being also due to methodological issues in analysis of retrospective multicenter studies. Anyway, current evidence support the use of DAAs in HCV-HCC treated patients, without any higher risk of tumor recurrence linked to antiviral therapy. Less effort has been made to evaluate the efficacy of DAA therapy in patients with untreated active HCC and it has been questioned whether a lower rate of SVR would be obtained among patients with active HCC. Studies conducted in this perspective concluded that HCC status does not influence the likelihood to obtain SVR with DAAs, making DAAs appropriate in HCC-active patients. As far as survival is concerned, recent studies conducted in cirrhotic HCV-related early-stage HCC found that DAAs improved overall survival, a benefit probably due to the reduction of hepatic decompensation.