Hepatitis awareness and liver cancer

The Cancer Council predicts liver cancer is to grow to become the fifth-most-common cause of cancer death in 2020 in Australian men and the sixth biggest killer in women. This will eclipse melanoma as a cause of death.

GPs have a crucial role in improving efforts to identify and treat people with hepatitis B and C viruses and other liver diseases in order to reduce the impact of liver cancer. Around 450,000 Australians have hepatitis B or hepatitis C infection. Even more have significant fatty liver disease. More than 90% of people with hepatitis B virus were born overseas in countries where the virus is common and transmitted perinatally, such as the Asia Pacific or sub-Saharan Africa. Whilst injecting recreational drug use is the main risk factor for hepatitis C, a significant number of people have been infected in their country of birth through non-sterile medical practices and vaccinations. Highly effective treatments are now available for both hepatitis B and C. Everyone with cirrhosis should have six-monthly ultrasound surveillance for liver cancer. For more information contact your local Liver Clinic or go to www.gesa.org.au 

The RPAH Hepatology Team