A new study from University of Texas Southwestern Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center shows that antiviral drugs for hepatitis C can reduce liver-related deaths by nearly 50% in patients with a history of liver cancer.
Wrong previous concepts on Hepatitis C drugs
Hepatitis C is a viral infection caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The infection spreads through contaminated blood, causing liver inflammation that can sometimes lead to serious liver damage.
Previously, many doctors were not willing to prescribe direct-acting antivirals to treat hepatitis C in patients with a history of liver cancer, because they believed that hepatitis C would activate the immune system when it infects the liver, and thus may increase cancer recurrence.
But the new study demonstrates that the notion above appears to be false.
Researchers studied nearly 800 patients from 31 medical centers across the country and found that Hepatitis C drugs are not only safe but can also decrease death from cirrhosis and liver cancer by 46%.
According to researchers, the reasons why previous studies compounded the misunderstandings of Hepatitis C therapy are:
—failing to account for the timing of therapy relative to liver cancer diagnosis,
—not including a comparison group,
—not properly considering clinical differences among patients.
Why Hepatitis C therapy is so important
The new study is a significant contribution, because it shows that Hepatitis C therapy can provide a cure.
You can just take oral medications for two or three months, with minimal to no side effects, and you can be cured of hepatitis C. And if you're cured of hepatitis C, there's less than a 1% chance of relapse.
It is also important for defeating hepatitis C, because hepatitis C infection can lead to cirrhosis, a deadly liver condition that causes irreversible scarring on the liver and increases the risk for liver cancer.
Therefore, curing hepatitis C with antivirals actually breaks the first link in a deadly chain and can really reduce liver-related deaths.