If you are a hepatitis C carrier, you may be wondering if you are also at risk of liver cancer, also commonly known as hepatocellular carcinoma. While the risk of developing liver cancer is higher for those with hepatitis C, not everyone develops liver cancer. There are other risk factors that can increase your chances of hepatocellular carcinoma such as age, lifestyle choices, and genetics. This is why it is important to talk to your doctor if you are a hepatitis C carrier about what steps you can take to reduce your chances of developing this deadly disease.
In this article, OncoCare Cancer Centre, a leading cancer specialist in Singapore looks at how hep C can cause liver cancer, how those infected with hepatitis C can determine if they have this condition and what are the possible treatments available to them if they are diagnosed with it.
How Hep C Causes Liver Cancer
- Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infections: Globally, chronic infections with either the hepatitis B virus (HBV) or the HCV are one of the highest risk factors for liver cancer. People in the United States are more susceptible to HCV while locals in Asia and developing countries face a higher likelihood of catching a HBV infection. People who are infected with both viruses have an even higher risk of developing chronic hepatitis and liver cancer. Hepatitis C carriers often develop cirrhosis that leads to damage of the liver and a higher probability of liver cancer, which is why this condition is so widespread in many parts of the world. This risk increases exponentially if they consume large amounts of alcohol (around 6 alcoholic beverages daily) too.
- Cirrhosis: This is a condition which damages the liver cells and causes them to be replaced by scar tissue, leading to an increased risk of liver failure, as well as liver cancer. More often than not, cirrhosis develops in people who abuse alcohol or have chronic HBV or HCV infections.
With hepatitis C infections posing a great threat to your health and being a significant risk factor for liver cancer, it is paramount for those who suspect they have hepatitis C to go for a HCV test.
What Should I Do If I Have a Hepatitis C Infection?
According to the World Health Organisation, there are hepatitis C infection treatments available such as antiviral medicines that boast an estimated 95% efficacy rate in getting rid of the infection in carriers. However, without an effective vaccine and treatments that are fully effective in clearing hepatitis c infections, it is advisable for hepatitis C carriers to go for regular survillence follow up with their doctors who may recommend a multi-phase computed tomography (CT) contrast liver scan to check if they have liver cancer.
A CT scan is a type of imaging test that uses X-rays and computer technology to create images of the body. It will take X-ray images from different angles to get a better view of the inside of the body. They are crucial for providing more detailed information about the liver, gallbladder, and related diseases such as liver cancer. Using CT, the scan speed of the liver is enhanced greatly and the whole liver can be scanned during a single breath-hold. To be thorough, multi-phase CT scans are essential for maximum visualisation of your liver and can detect even small hepatocellular carcinoma (SHCC).
Make An Appointment Today
If you are a hepatitis C carrier, it is important to be proactive and understand your risk of liver cancer. Early diagnosis is key to treating liver cancer, so it is important to speak to an established cancer doctor in Singapore such as OncoCare Cancer Centre if you are infected with hepatitis C and concerned about your risk of liver cancer. Our highly experienced oncology specialists are known for providing dedicated and personalised care for every patient. At our integrated facility, you can gain access to cancer screening and liver cancer treatment options according to your preferences and needs. Make an appointment at one of our centrally located clinics now.
“Expert knowledge means better care for cancer”
Dr Angela Pang
Grad Dip (GRM)
M Med (Internal Med)