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Statins Proven Safe and Effective in Reducing Risk of Developing Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Patients with Chronic Liver Disease

A recent study has revealed that the use of statins is safe and may even reduce the risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma or HCC among adults with chronic liver disease.

Statins Proven Safe and Effective in Reducing Risk of Developing Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Patients with Chronic Liver Disease
Photo: Statins | InStyleHealth

What Is Hepatocellular Carcinoma or HCC?

A Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of primary liver cancer. Hepatocellular carcinoma happens most often or affects people with chronic liver diseases or CLD, such as liver cirrhosis caused by hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus infection.

What Are The Risk Factors of Hepatocellular Carcinoma or HCC?

Risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma – the most common type of primary liver cancer, is higher in people with long-term liver diseases or cirrhosis. Also, it is even higher if the liver is scarred by infection with hepatitis B or hepatitis C. Hepatocellular carcinoma or HCC is prevalent in people who drink large amounts of alcohol and who have fat accumulation in the liver.

What Are the Available Treatments of Hepatocellular Carcinoma or HCC?

Getting the best treatment that suits you will vary on the size and location of the hepatocellular carcinoma and how well your liver is functioning, as well as your overall health.

Available treatments of Hepatocellular Carcinoma are the following:

  • Clinical trials give you a chance to try new liver cancer treatments. You can ask your doctor whether you are eligible to participate in a clinical trial.
  • Delivering chemotherapy or radiation directly to cancer cells. Using a catheter that has passed through your blood vessels and into your liver, doctors can deliver chemotherapy drugs (chemoembolization) or tiny glass spheres containing radiation (radioembolization) directly to the cancer cells.
  • Destroying cancer cells with heat or cold. Ablation procedures to kill the cancer cells in the liver using extreme heat or cold may be recommended for people who cannot undergo surgery. These procedures include radiofrequency ablation, cryoablation, and ablation using alcohol or microwaves.
  • Immunotherapy drugs use your body’s germ-fighting immune system to attack the cancer cells. Immunotherapy may be an option for treating advanced liver cancer.
  • Liver transplant surgery to remove the entire liver and replace it with a liver from a donor may be an option in otherwise healthy people whose liver cancer has not spread beyond the liver.
  • Radiation therapy using energy from X-rays or protons may be recommended if surgery is not an option. A specialized type of radiation therapy, called stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), involves focusing many beams of radiation simultaneously at one point in your body.
  • Surgery to remove the cancer and a margin of healthy tissue that surrounds it may be an option for people with early-stage liver cancers who have normal liver function.
  • Targeted drug therapy attack specific weaknesses in the cancer cells, and they may help slow the progression of the disease in people with advanced liver cancers.

In order to evaluate the safety and efficacy of statin use for HCC prevention among patients with chronic liver disease, researchers conducted a systematic search of electronic databases from PubMed/Medline, Embase, Cochrane library, and – up to 15 April 2020. Researchers identified all studies that examined statin use and the risk of HCC among chronic liver disease patients, regardless of language, region, publication date, or status.

There was a total of 583 citations were identified, of which 13 studies met the inclusion criteria and evaluated the efficacy and safety of statins in chronic liver diseases patients for HCC prevention. All eligible studies were observational, with 2 nested case-control and 11 cohort studies, and no randomized trial was included.

The use of statin was correlated with a lower pooled risk of HCC development. Also, there was consistent reduction in HCC among statin users in cirrhosis, hepatitis B virus, and hepatitis C virus infections. Moreover, the risk of statin-related myopathy was comparable between statin users and non-users.

According to researchers that given the bias with observation studies, prospective randomized trial is needed to confirm the findings.

Hepatocellular Carcinoma or HCC is a deadly complication among chronic liver disease patients.


Source: J Clin Gastroenterol 2021;55:615-623

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