To investigate differences in the effect of interferon (IFN)-alpha and IFN-beta treatment for hepatitis C on hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development, we prospectively followed 351 consecutive patients (median age, 56.6 years; mean follow-up, 5.7 ± 2.6 years) with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) viremia. Of 260 IFN-alpha and 91 IFN-beta treated patients, 17 (6.5%) and 4 (4.4%), respectively, developed HCC. Virological response (VR) was defined as persistent HCV RNA disappearance from serum, and biochemical response (BR) as persistent alanine aminotransferase (ALT) normalization after treatment. No significant between-group differences in HCC development were found between those with and without VR. Although the HCC development rate in patients without BR was significantly higher than that in patients with BR in the IFN-alpha group (11.4% and 0.8%; P < 0.05), no significant difference was found in the IFN-beta group (6.3% and 2.3%). Similar rates of HCC development were found in patients with chronic HCV viremia treated with either IFN-alpha or IFN-beta.
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