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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References

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.

Credits

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