Chronic hepatitis B virus patients are insufficiently monitored for disease activity and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), according to Philip R. Spradling, MD, and his associates of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a cohort study of 2,992 patients with CHB, 2,338 were used for assessment. Researchers used alanine aminotransferase (ALT) monitoring, HBV DNA monitoring, assessment for cirrhosis, and HBV antiviral therapy for examination. For ALT monitoring, 1,814 (78%) of patients had at least one ALT level obtained per year of follow-up. Only 876 patients (37%) had at least one HBV DNA level assessment per year of follow-up and 1,037 (44%) had less than annual testing, and 18% of patients never had an HBV DNA level assessed. Among patients with cirrhosis, 297 (54%) had HBV DNA testing done at least annually, 189 (35%) had testing done but less frequently than annually, and 61 (11%) never had an HBV DNA test done. And of the 547 patients with cirrhosis, 305 (56%) were prescribed HBV antiviral therapy.

It was noted that patients were monitored during 2006-2013. Only 68% of patients had not been prescribed treatment, and 72% had received liver-related specialty care.

“Our findings reiterate the need for clinicians who treat patients with [chronic HBV] to provide ongoing, continual assessment of disease activity based on HBV DNA and ALT levels, as well as liver imaging surveillance among patients at high risk for HCC,” researchers concluded. “As antiviral therapy for [chronic HBV] now includes potent and highly efficacious oral agents that have few contraindications and minimal side effects, as well as a high barrier to resistance, clinicians should be vigilant for opportunities to decrease the likelihood of poor clinical outcomes.”

Read the full study in Clinical Infectious Diseases here .