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    Hepatitis B and C: Risk of Liver Cancer

    Hepatitis B and C: Risk of Liver Cancer

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    Topic Overview

    People who are infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C (HCV) virus may develop a chronic infection that can lead to cirrhosis . The damage that results increases the risk of liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma).

    If you have chronic HBV infection:

    • You may develop liver cancer even if you do not have cirrhosis. But most people who have HBV and liver cancer also have cirrhosis.
    • Receiving antiviral therapy to treat chronic HBV infection may lower your risk for developing liver cancer.

    If you have chronic HCV infection:

    • The strain (genotype) of HCV infection does not appear to affect your risk for developing liver cancer.
    • You are not at significant risk of developing cancer unless you also already have cirrhosis.
    • You are at greatly increased risk of liver cancer if you have alcohol-related cirrhosis in addition to hepatitis.
    • Receiving antiviral therapy to treat chronic HCV infection may lower your risk for developing liver cancer.

    Screening with ultrasound of the liver, liver function tests, and blood tests (including alpha-fetoprotein [AFP]) every 6 to 12 months is recommended for people at risk of liver cancer.

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    Other Works Consulted

    • Ciesek S, Manns MP (2015). Chronic liver diseases. In EG Nabel et al., eds., Scientific American Medicine, chap. 1033. Hamilton, ON: BC Decker. https://www.deckerip.com/decker/scientific-american-medicine/chapter/1033/pdf. Accessed November 21, 2016.


    ByHealthwise Staff
    Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
    Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
    E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
    Specialist Medical Reviewer W. Thomas London, MD - Hepatology

    Current as ofMarch 3, 2017

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