Treatment of hepatitis C virus with interferon in a patient with lymphoma

John Han-Chih Chang, MD and Kenneth Blank, MD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
I am in the very early stages of a low-grade B-cell Lymphoma, and have also been diagnosed with Hepatitis C. I will be having a liver biopsy and then have to make a decision as to whether or not to go on Interferon. None of my doctors have been able to locate information regarding the effects of Interferon on Lymphoma. I'm trying to find anyone who's had experience with this so that I can refer information/studies to my doctors.

If anyone has any suggestions, I'd be extremely grateful.  
Thank you.

Ken Blank, MD OncoLink Editorial Assistant replies:

Thank you for your question.

Several recent reports have described hepatitis C virus (HCV) as a possible causative agent in lymphoma. These reports have demonstrated the presence of HCV infection in nearly one third of non-hodgkins lymphoma (NHL) patients. HCV in association with unknown genetic and/or environmental factors plays a role in the etiology of lymphoma. Other viruses, including Epstein-Barr virus and human herpes virus type 6 have also been suggested as causative agents in lymphoma. Because nearly one third of lymphoma patients may be positive for HCV, there are physicians who are familiar with treating both disorders. A search of the National Library of Medicine's MEDLINE database combining lymphoma and interferon will produce a list of greater than 20 articles. We recommend that you or your physicians contact the authors of these articles, who certainly are most likely to have encountered the problem you ask about.