Liver Cancer Awareness Month
Every year in October we recognize Liver Cancer Awareness Month. This is an important health observance because almost 300 million people worldwide are living with hepatitis B, and that puts them at higher risk for developing liver cancer.
The Link Between Liver Cancer and Hepatitis B
The most common type of liver cancer is “primary liver cancer” or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Worldwide, the most common risk factor for primary liver cancer is chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus. Chronic viral hepatitis infections (hepatitis B and hepatitis C) cause about 80% of all liver cancers. Obesity, heavy alcohol use, fatty liver disease (NAFLD or NASH), and some metabolic disorders also increase the risk for primary liver cancer. People chronically infected with hepatitis B are more likely to develop liver cancer than uninfected people because the virus directly and repeatedly attacks the liver. These attacks over time can lead to increased liver damage, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), and ultimately, liver cancer. People with hepatitis B may also be at risk for liver cancer in the absence of cirrhosis. Those who have chronic hepatitis B can reduce their risk of liver cancer through regular medical monitoring, including liver cancer surveillance, taking antiviral treatment if necessary, and making healthy lifestyle changes.
The best way to prevent liver cancer is to prevent hepatitis B infection! This is why hepatitis B vaccination is so important. When someone gets vaccinated to protect them from getting hepatitis B, they are also helping to prevent liver cancer!
Resources to Learn More About Liver Cancer
- Liver Cancer Connect is a program of the Hepatitis B Foundation that was created to provide individuals and families with the information and support they need when facing the challenge of primary liver cancer.
- Read two liver cancer and hepatitis B vignettes that highlight real life experiences here: Ignore it till it goes away & If it's not broken, don't fix it.
- Video with liver expert, Dr. Gish discussing the importance of liver cancer surveillance. Watch it here.
- The B Heppy Podcast has a great episode with Dr. Rothstein about the relationship between liver cancer and hepatitis B. Listen here.
- The International Liver Cancer Movement (ILCM) is an excellent resource for all things liver cancer. Visit their website here.
- Seek Community Support: HepBCommunity.org is a global peer-led, volunteer-driven forum to support those living with and affected by hep B. They are dedicated to connecting people affected by hepatitis B with each other and verified experts in the field, who provide trustworthy and accurate advice.
Thank you for stopping by to learn more about Liver Cancer Awareness Month and the connection between liver cancer and hepatitis B.
How Can I Help?
If you would like to help support cutting-edge research and programs that fight liver cancer, please donate here.