Studies investigating the association between direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) and the recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) related to hepatitis C (HCV) have yielded conflicting results. The objective of this meta-analysis was to define the short- and long-term recurrence rates of HCC after DAA treatment.
A search of multiple databases was performed, including Scopus, Cochrane, MEDLINE/PubMed and abstracts from gastroenterology meetings. Only studies reporting the recurrence of HCC in patients receiving DAA treatment, compared to HCV controls without DAA treatment, were evaluated. A meta-analysis was completed using the Mantel-Haenszel model.
A comprehensive literature search resulted in 32 abstracts and papers. Six papers met our inclusion criteria and were included in the analysis. Follow up ranged from 1.25-4 years. Analysis of these 6 studies found a >60% lower risk of HCC recurrence in patients exposed to DAA compared to controls (odds ratio [OR] 0.36, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.27-0.47; P<0.001; =88%). A sensitivity analysis, which excluded studies showing the lowest recurrence rate to reduce heterogeneity, showed that patients receiving DAA still had a 60% lower risk of developing HCC (OR 0.4, 95%CI 0.26-0.61; P<0.0001; =39%) and a 66% lower risk of developing HCC beyond 1 year (OR 0.34, 95%CI 0.22-0.54; P<0.00001; =0%) compared to controls.
The use of DAA is associated with a significantly lower risk of HCC development compared to DAA-untreated patients, both overall and beyond 1 year of treatment. Further studies are needed to assess the impact of DAAs on early recurrence.

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