Background: Reactivation of the hepatitis B virus (HBV) either during or after chemotherapy may cause serious and sometimes fatal hepatitis. All patients undergoing chemotherapy should therefore be screened in terms of HBV before chemotherapy. The purpose of this research was to identify HBV screening rates in patients with solid cancer undergoing parenteral chemotherapy and to determine the outcomes of patients undergoing HBV screening.
Methods: Data for patients undergoing parenteral chemotherapy for solid cancer from January 1, 2012 to December 30, 2018 were retrieved from our electronic health record patient files in this retrospective study. Screening was defined as hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and/or hepatitis B core antibody (HBcAb) tests carried out within six months prior the first chemotherapy session.
Results: Four thousand fifty-eight (63%) of the 6440 patients who underwent parenteral chemotherapy were screened for HBsAg and/or HBcAb. The proportions of patients screened for HBsAg and HBcAb improved from 38.8% (2012) to 76.3% (2018), and from 0.2% (2012) to 43% (2018), respectively (P<0.001). The HBsAg and HBcAb positivity rates were 2.9% and 36.5%, respectively. Antiviral prophylaxis was started in 11.8% of HBsAg-negative/HBcAb-positive patients and 40.5% of HBsAg-positive patients. HBV reactivation did not occur in patients receiving antiviral prophylaxis, but was identified in 7.2% of HBsAg-positive patients and 0.6% of HBsAg-negative/HBcAb-positive patients without antiviral prophylaxis.
Conclusion: Although HBV screening rates before chemotherapy are increasing among solid cancer patients, the rate of initiation of antiviral prophylaxis is still low. It is therefore important to raise awareness regarding HBV reactivation during/after chemotherapy.