Role of anti-hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment in HCV-related, low-grade, B-cell, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: a multicenter Italian experience

Daniele Vallisa, Patrizia Bernuzzi, Luca Arcaini, Stefano Sacchi, Vittorio Callea, Roberto Marasca, Antonio Lazzaro, Elena Trabacchi, Elisa Anselmi, Anna Lisa Arcari, Carlo Moroni, Raffaella Bertè, Mario Lazzarino, Luigi Cavanna
Journal of Clinical Oncology 2005 January 20, 23 (3): 468-73

PURPOSE: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is endemic in some areas of Northwestern Europe and the United States. HCV has been shown to play a role in the development of both hepatocellular carcinoma and B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (B-NHL). The biologic mechanisms underlying the lymphomagenic activity of the virus so far are under investigation. In this study, the role of antiviral (anti-HCV) treatment in B-NHL associated with HCV infection is evaluated.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Thirteen patients with histologically proven low-grade B-NHL characterized by an indolent course (ie, doubling time no less than 1 year, no bulky disease) and carrying HCV infection were enrolled on the study. All patients underwent antiviral treatment alone with pegilated interferon and ribavirin. Response assessment took place at 6 and 12 months.

RESULTS: Of the twelve assessable patients, seven (58%) achieved complete response and two (16%) partial hematologic response at 14.1 +/- 9.7 months (range, 2 to 24 months, median follow-up, 14 months), while two had stable disease with only one patient experiencing progression of disease. Hematologic responses (complete and partial, 75%) were highly significantly associated to clearance or decrease in serum HCV viral load following treatment (P = .005). Virologic response was more likely to be seen in HCV genotype 2 (P = .035), while hematologic response did not correlate with the viral genotype. Treatment-related toxicity did not cause discontinuation of therapy in all but two patients, one of whom, however, achieved complete response.

CONCLUSION: This experience strongly provides a role for antiviral treatment in patients affected by HCV-related, low-grade, B-cell NHL.

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