Should surveillance for liver cancer be modified in hepatitis C patients after treatment-related cirrhosis regression?

Roberta D'Ambrosio, Massimo Colombo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Surveillance of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with abdominal ultrasound (US) is recommended for patients with advanced liver fibrosis because of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections who achieve a sustained virological response (SVR) to antiviral therapy. HCC, in fact, may still develop following SVR as a consequence of long-standing carcinogenic activity of either HCV or hepatic fibrosis, whereas HCC risk in non-viraemic patients may also be driven by cofactors like alcohol abuse or diabetes. This explains the debate on whether surveillance for HCC should be continued in patients with documented cirrhosis regression following a SVR too. While regression of cirrhosis was documented to occur in a majority of patients with compensated cirrhosis 5 years after an SVR to interferon, it should be noted that this clinical benefit could be the consequence of treating a selected population with well-compensated liver disease who in fact were interferon able. This may not be the case for most real-life patients with advanced cirrhosis receiving direct antivirals, in whom liver fibrosis may have reached a point of no-return thus potentially preventing the recovery of a normal liver architecture following SVR. Both invasive and non-invasive tools have suboptimal diagnostic accuracy for fibrosis regression in non-viraemic patients, and this prompts to follow international societies' recommendation to perform surveillance in patients with advanced liver fibrosis achieving a SVR, independently on liver histology outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)783-790
Number of pages8
JournalLiver International
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Cirrhosis
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Interferon therapy
  • Predictors of liver cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology


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