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Prevent Hepatitis B and C to Prevent Liver Cancer

hepatitis virus

Updated October 2020

What is Liver Cancer?

Liver cancer forms in the tissues of the liver, an organ that filters toxins from the blood and helps the body digest food. Liver cancer is somewhat rare in the United States. However, some groups of Americans are at higher risk for liver cancer, including American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asian/Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics. These groups tend to have more risk factors for liver cancer, including higher rates of hepatitis B and hepatitis C infection.

Does hepatitis cause liver cancer?

Infection from the hepatitis B virus or hepatitis C virus can cause damage to the liver, which can lead to liver cancer. Both viruses spread when blood or other body fluids of a person infected with the virus enters the body of a person not infected. If left untreated over time, damage caused by hepatitis B or C can lead to liver cancer.

How can I prevent hepatitis infection?

Take these actions to prevent hepatitis B or hepatitis C infection:

  • Get the hepatitis B vaccine (HepB). Anyone can receive the HepB vaccine, starting at birth. Most American children receive the HepB vaccine as part of the Centers for Disease Control’s recommended vaccine schedule. If you don’t know whether you have had the HepB vaccine, talk with your doctor.
  • Avoid contact with blood and body fluids from people who may have the hepatitis B or C virus. Visit the CDC’s website to learn more about how hepatitis viruses are spread. Talk to your doctor if you think you have been exposed to the a hepatiti virus.

Read about other liver cancer causes and risk factors. If you or a loved one are worried about your risk, talk with a doctor.

Contact the G. Mitchell Morris Cancer Learning Center at Huntsman Cancer Institute if you have questions about liver cancer or any other cancer topic.