A UT Southwestern Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center study demonstrates that antiviral drugs for hepatitis C reduce liver-related deaths by nearly 50 percent in patients with a history of liver cancer.
The finding builds on a December 2018 study by the same researchers who found that antiviral drugs do not increase the risk of liver cancer recurrence, as was previously feared. Dr. Amit Singal’s study was published recently in Gastroenterology.
Dr. Singal is an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, Medical Director of the UT Southwestern Liver Tumor Program, and Clinical Chief of Hepatology. He collaborated on these studies with Dr. Caitlin Murphy, Assistant Professor of Population and Data Sciences and Internal Medicine. They are both members of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Their studies overturn prior misconceptions that made doctors reluctant to prescribe direct-acting antivirals to treat hepatitis C in patients with a history of liver cancer. Many doctors previously believed that hepatitis C, for all its harmfulness, activates the immune system when it infects the liver, and the immune system kept liver cancer recurrence at bay.
But this notion appears to be false. Drs. Singal and Murphy studied nearly 800 patients from 31 medical centers across the country and found that the drugs decrease death from cirrhosis and liver cancer by 46 percent.
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