Preventing liver cancer: What you can do for your liver this month
Published on October 23, 2019
You’ve probably noticed October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but did you know this month is also Liver Cancer Awareness Month? Liver cancer is the fastest-rising cause of cancer death in the U.S. and the second-leading cause of cancer death globally. As we prepare to enter a new decade, you can take simple steps now to lower those statistics tomorrow, because the leading causes of liver cancer are preventable.
The majority of liver cancer cases are related to hepatitis B or C, and most of the 4 million living with these viruses (in the U.S. alone!) don’t even know they are infected.
Hepatitis B and C don’t always show symptoms, so most carriers aren’t even aware they have the virus. Getting vaccinated against hepatitis B and screened/treated for hepatitis C is your best defense against these viruses and the liver cancer they can cause.
The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for infants and follow-up vaccinations occur during childhood, but a catch-up vaccination is available for eligible adults. If you have not been vaccinated, you can get screened for hepatitis B, and if positive, treated for the virus.
There currently is no vaccination available for hepatitis C, but those at a higher risk of having the virus—African Americans, Hispanics and baby boomers—should talk to their health care professionals about screening for hepatitis C. If you test positive for the virus, you should receive treatment to reduce your chance of developing liver cancer.
To observe liver cancer awareness month and recognize the hundreds of thousands that will be diagnosed this year, talk to a health care professional this month about your risk of hepatitis B and C, and prevent a liver cancer diagnosis.
“Before I was diagnosed with hepatitis C, I didn’t know about its link to liver cancer,” said Escovedo. “Now I’m a survivor, and I’m thankful I got treated for my virus before it could do more damage. Make an appointment to see your doctor today and get tested so you can stop cancer before it starts!”
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