Background: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is the leading cause of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) worldwide. It remains incompletely understood in the real world how anti-viral therapy affects survival after HCC diagnosis. Methods: This was an international multicentre cohort study of 2518 HBV-related HCC cases diagnosed between 2000 and 2015. Cox proportional hazards models were utilised to estimate hazard ratios (HR) with 95% (CI) for anti-viral therapy and cirrhosis on patients' risk of death. Results: Approximately, 48% of patients received anti-viral therapy at any time, but only 17% were on therapy at HCC diagnosis (38% at US centres, 11% at Asian centres). Anti-viral therapy would have been indicated for >60% of the patients not on anti-viral therapy based on American criteria. Patients with cirrhosis had lower 5-year survival (34% vs 46%; P < 0.001) while patients receiving anti-viral therapy had increased 5-year survival compared to untreated patients (42% vs 25% with cirrhosis and 58% vs 36% without cirrhosis; P < 0.001 for both). Similar findings were seen for other patient subgroups by cancer stages and cancer treatment types. Anti-viral therapy was associated with a decrease in risk of death, whether started before or after HCC diagnosis (adjusted HR 0.62 and 0.79, respectively; P < 0.001). Conclusions: Anti-viral therapy improved overall survival in patients with HBV-related HCC across cancer stages and treatment types but was underutilised at both US and Asia centres. Expanded use of anti-viral therapy in HBV-related HCC and better linkage-to-care for HBV patients are needed.
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Declaration of funding interests: MHL was supported in part by grant MOST 105-2628-B-010-003 MY4.
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd