Four men with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are reported who had a spontaneous regression of their tumors.They all had a history of hepatitis C viral infections and liver cirrhosis, and showed a rapid increase of blood alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) just before cancer remission. With remission, all of their AFP levels in the blood rapidly returned to normal.
HCC occurs especially in South Africa and Asia. There are about 1 million new cases per year of HCC, internationally, most of the patients have one of the following:
1. A multiyear history of hepatitis B.
2. A multiyear history of hepatitis C.
3. Alcohol abuse history.
4. Liver cirrhosis.
Case #1 was a 70-year-old male with HCC, esophageal varices and bleeding. He had a high level of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) of 3360 ng./ml. Later, the tumor was found to be shrunken and the AFP level was reduced to 19.8 ng./ml. He, later, died of ruptured esophageal varices.
Case #2 was a 75-year-old man who was seropositive (blood test) for hepatitis C, with HCC diagnosed in 1995. In Nov., 1999, his AFP was 6750 ng./ml. and lung metastases were diagnosed, and in Dec., 1999, he received chemotherapy. The metastases grew and AFP rose to 14,737 ng./ml. and he showed no improvement. But, four months later he was found to have decreased size and number of lung nodules and the AFP had dropped to 99.3 ng./ml. After 8 months of regression, the tumors increased and he died of liver failure.
Case #3 was a 67-year-old male with blood markers of hepatitis C and HCC. He was a social drinker. After radio frequency ablation (RFA) no tumors were seen on CAT scan. Several months later he had the return of HCC and portal venous thrombosis. AFP was 33,850 ng./ml. in Mar., 2002 and palliative care was given. In July, 2003, he returned with his AFP down to 7.6 ng./ml. And the liver mass was shrunk. In Aug., 2003, he died of ruptured esophageal varices.
Case #4 was a 67-year-old male who tested positive for hepatitis C and HCC in 1998, with AFP at 601 ng./ml. By July, 2001, he had multiple symptoms and lung metastases, and his AFP was 89,980 ng./ml. He started to take complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) of unspecified type. Six months later his AFP was 6.2 and his lung nodules and liver tumors were completely gone on CAT scan. He was still alive in 2006.
Spontaneous remission of HCC has been previously reported after the following:
1. Withdrawal of androgens.
2. Withdrawal of alcohol.
3. Herbal medicine use.
4. Blood transfusions.
5. Massive bleeding.
6. Rapid tumor growth.
9. Surgical trauma.
CONCLUSION: Four cases of spontaneous regression of hepatocellular cancer (HCC) are reported. This remission is associated with reduced alpha-fetoprotein levels as a marker. The HCC was seen in patients with the history of viral hepatitis and cirrhosis.
NOTE: Alpha-fetoprotein is a chemical marker for liver cancer, among other disease processes. The level of AFP can indicate the progression of hepatocellular cancer.
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