Prevention of hepatitis B virus reactivation in patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma with lamivudine

W Yeo, EP Hui, AT Chan, WM Ho, KC Lam, PK Chan, TS Mok, JJ Lee, FK Mo, Philip Johnson

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53 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE: Although the mainstay of treatment of patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) had been radiotherapy, chemotherapy has increasingly been adopted in conjunction with radiation and in advanced disease. In parts of Asia where NPC is prevalent, it is also known that around 10% of the population has chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. Cancer patients who are HBV carriers are frequently complicated by HBV reactivation during chemotherapy. This may result in liver damage, which disrupts anticancer therapy and compromises the patients' prognosis. In its most severe form, fatal hepatic failure may occur. With the increasing use of chemotherapy in NPC, the occurrence of HBV reactivation is likely to increase further. Although recent reports have suggested that the antiviral agent lamivudine may reduce HBV reactivation and its associated morbidity, there has been no data on this aspect in NPC patients. This study assessed the role of lamivudine in preventing HBV reactivation and its associated morbidity in NPC patients who have chronic HBV infection and are undergoing chemotherapy. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Two groups were studied. One group consisted of 16 patients who received prophylactic lamivudine prior to and until 8 weeks after discontinuing chemotherapy. The other comprised 21 historical control subjects who underwent chemotherapy without prophylactic lamivudine. The outcomes were compared. RESULTS: With prophylactic lamivudine, there were significantly fewer incidences of hepatitis (6.7% vs 33.3%, P = 0.047) and HBV reactivation (0% vs 28.6%, P = 0.027), and less disruption of chemotherapy (18.8% vs 67.7%, P = 0.045). CONCLUSION: Prophylactic lamivudine significantly reduces the incidence and morbidity of HBV reactivation in NPC patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-384
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Oncology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2005


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