Promising New Liver Cancer Screening Program for Native Alaskans Could Be Effective in Developing Countries
CHICAGO, November 10 - At the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases 1998 Annual Meeting inChicago, November 6 - 10, researchers discussed disturbing new findings indicating that interferon, the most commonly used drug against chronic Hepatitis C, is much less effective for African Americans than it is for other racial and ethnic groups.
Jay Hoofnagle, MD, of the National Institutes of Health, discussed a study of the role race and ethnicity play in determining how well patients respond to using interferon to treat chronic Hepatitis C. A large, randomized, North American controlled trial of response to interferon compared African American, Caucasian, Hispanic, and Asian patients who were similar in age and in their levels of Hepatitis C virus (HCV) as measured by an antibody called HCV RNA.
At the end of the interferon therapy, only 5% of African-Americans became HCV RNA negative, as opposed to 33% of Causasians, 28% of Hispanics, and 40% of Asians. "The differences in response to interferon in HCV is as yet unexplained," according to the abstract of the research findings presented at the AASLD meeting, "but have major implications for future directions in the therapy of the disease.
For another ethnic minority, Native Alaskans, the AASLD Annual Meeting had some positive news.
Brian J.McMahon, MD, of the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage, AK, reported on a screening
program that is helping to detect liver cancer and improve survival rates. In late 1982, the
Alaska Native Medical Center launched a state-wide program to conduct regular blood tests of all
Alaska Natives who have chronic Hepatitis B. Persons with chronic Hepatitis B are at a high risk
of developing liver cancer during their lifetimes. The tests evaluated the level of
alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) in blood, which is an indicator of liver
Contact: Kirk Monroe
American Association For The Study of Liver Diseases