In a study published in Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, researchers in the University of Florida College of Pharmacy used a nationally representative medical insurance claims database to determine the impact of hepatitis C virus, or HCV, treatment on the incidence rates of non-hepatic cancers in patients chronically infected with HCV in the United States. Those infected with hepatitis C virus have an increased risk of developing non-hepatic cancers including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, pancreatic cancer, head and neck cancer, oesophageal cancer, lung cancer and colorectal cancer. Yet, little is known if risk of developing non-hepatic cancers will decrease when chronically infected HCV patients initiate and stay on antiviral therapies.
Wei “Vivian” Wang, Ph.D., in the department of pharmaceutical outcomes and policy and Haesuk Park, Ph.D., an associate professor in the department, led the investigation. They found that among over 62,000 patients newly diagnosed with HCV, 28% initiated HCV treatment. Those patients on HCV treatment had an 11% decreased risk of developing a non-hepatic cancer compared to the untreated patients. Patients who completed a minimally effective treatment (8-12 weeks of antiviral therapies) had a slightly higher reduced risk. Their findings suggest that treating HCV patients can decrease those patients’ extrahepatic cancer burden associated with chronic HCV infection. Wang said that these findings highlight the benefit of HCV treatment among choric HCV infected patients is beyond the prevention for liver diseases. Timely and sufficient treatment for HCV can also help reduce patients’ burden on non-liver related disease, like non-hepatic cancers.