Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) is the most prevalent type of liver cancer known to man, and is directly associated to a Hepatitis B or C infection, or cirrhosis of the liver, alcoholism being the main cause of cirrhosis.
Aspirin has been linked recently to reduced risk for primary liver cancer, but Hepatocellular Carcinoma is mainly caused by hepatitis or alcoholism in countries where Hepatitis is endemic, and in the United Stateswhere Hepatitis is not endemic, it is considered a secondary cause of this type of liver cancer, along with alcoholism, and the primary cause being metastasis, meaning the cancer spreads from another source, most times from the colon. In fact, the tumor associated with Hepatitis related Hepatocellular Carcinoma is actually quite rare in the United States, as hepatitis is not endemic in the U.S. but is in many foreign countries.
Aspirin shows promise as a preventative curative for all types of cancer, because as an NSAID, it is an anti-inflammatory, as well as a pain reliever.
However, the best way to avoid Hepatocellular Carcinoma is by getting a hepatitis vaccine, as hepatitis and alcoholism are the two major causes for Hepatocellular Carcinoma, which is also referred to as a malignant hematoma.
Additionally, abstinence from excessive alcohol consumption on a regular basis will help stave off this carcinoma.
Now that we have established that Hepatocellular Carcinoma is the most common type of liver cancer, let us talk about endemic and non-endemic causation.
Hepatitis in not endemic in the United States, and in countries where hepatitis is not endemic, in most cases the primary cause is metastasis of the liver, whereas in China, a country where hepatitis is endemic, the major cause of Hepatocellular Carcinoma is hepatitis.
Don’t be fooled however, the only reason hepatitis is not endemic in the U.S. is because of our superior vaccination rate. The adult vaccination rate is lagging, but the vaccination rate among our children is outstanding.
The Hepatitis B vaccine has been satisfactorily incorporated into the childhood vaccination schedule, and this has resulted in a 96% decline in the incidence of acute Hepatitis B in children and adolescents, with 95% of all new HBV infections occurring among adults, and unvaccinated adults with behavioral risk factors, such as being household contacts or sexual partners of HBV-infected persons. More education is needed within this group.
Groups at a higher risk for Hepatitis-B include:
• All adolescents.
• Inmates of long-term correctional facilities.
• Men who have sex with men.
• Heterosexuals with more than one sex partner in six months.
• Sexual partners of HBV-positive persons.
• Persons recently diagnosed with other STDs.
• Intravenous drug users.
• Recipients of certain blood products
• Patients receiving hemodialysis and patients with renal disease that may need dialysis.
• Health care and public safety workers who are exposed to blood.
• Certain international travelers.
• Clients and staff of institutions for the developmentally disabled.
• Immigrants/refugees from areas with high endemic rates of hepatitis B infection including Asia, Pacific Islands, Sub-Saharean Africa, Amazon Basin, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
• Asian and Pacific Islanders.
• Adopted children from countries where hepatitis B is endemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta estimate that there are 800,000 to 1.4 million persons in the United States living with a chronic hepatitis B infection, with 3,000 associated deaths reported. The numbers for hepatitis C are even more depressing. There are fully 2.7 to 3.9 million persons living in the United States with an associated hepatitis C infection, with 12,000 deaths reported.
Risk factors for Hepatocellular Carcinoma include:
• Hepatitis type B and C.
• Cirrhosis of the Liver.
• Hemochromatosis, which is an iron overload illness.
• Aflatoxin, which is a fungus and is one of the most carcinogenic substances known to man.
• Type 2 Diabetes as it relates to obesity.
Hepatitis type B or type C are the main causes of hepatocellular carcinoma, prevention of this infection is the key to prevention of hepatocellular carcinoma. Childhood vaccination against hepatitis B may reduce the risk of liver cancer in the future, and will definitely reduce Hepatitis infections.
In cirrhosis patients, alcohol consumption is to be avoided. Also, screening for hemochromatosis may have health benefits for some patients.
Prevention is the key, so if you’re at risk, get a vaccination, and if you’re not at risk, get a vaccination as well.
Article by Jim Donahue