World Hepatitis Day 2023: Understanding The Connection Between Hepatitis And Liver Cancer

World Hepatitis Day 2023: Understanding The Connection Between Hepatitis And Liver Cancer


New Delhi: World Hepatitis Day is celebrated every year on July 28, which signifies the importance of caring for liver health. The liver is one of the most essential human organs. However, it is devastating to hear that there were over one million+ deaths due to the impact of hepatitis, and still, 354 million people globally have Hepatitis.

What Is Hepatitis?

Hepatitis, usually referred to as the swelling or inflammation of the liver, has multiple causes, including the attack on the liver by the body’s immune cells and infections from different types of viruses. Another cause of Hepatitis is liver damage due to alcohol, medications, drugs, and toxins. The five main viral classifications of hepatitis are hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. A different virus is responsible for each type of viral hepatitis. 

Apart from the cause and the timely treatment, the type of Hepatitis also decides the level of damage to the liver. Hepatitis A is generally short-term, but Hepatitis B and C impact most people and often lead to chronic liver conditions. 

Symptoms Of Hepatitis:

The common hepatitis symptoms in case of prolonged conditions include fatigue, bloating, pain, inflammation, weight loss, dark urine, clay-coloured stools, jaundice, loss of weight, weakness, and other conditions that depend on the liver condition, personalized health, age, and immunity of an individual. 

The condition gets alarming when there are no symptoms in the initial stage of Hepatitis B and C, but later leads to liver failure and, in more chronic conditions, proves to be fatal. 

Hepatitis To Liver Cancer And Other Liver Issues:

Now, the damage due to Hepatitis on the Liver completely depends on how you deal with it. If hepatitis is diagnosed at an early stage, it quickly gets better. However, if Hepatitis remains undiagnosed and untreated, it can lead to more severe conditions like Liver Cirrhosis, Liver Cancer, Liver Failure, and Liver Damage.

Dr. Devavrat Arya- Director of Medical Oncologist, at MAX Hospital, Saket, New Delhi said, “Hepatitis, particularly chronic hepatitis is a difficult illness that needs specialized treatment. The risk with chronic infection is not only chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, but also the fact that these patients will be at a much higher risk of getting liver cancers (hepatocellular carcinoma ). In fact, chronic viral hepatitis remains a major cause of liver cancers worldwide.”

“Additional factors that may influence the risk of liver cancer in chronic hepatitis patients include older age, male sex, Hispanic ethnicity, diabetes and obesity, smoking, HCV genotype 3, alcohol abuse, and co-infection with HIV or HBV,” he further went on to say.

Adding to that, he said, “In patients with a chronic viral infection, antiviral therapy and suppression/cure of viral replication are associated with a significant reduction in the risk of HCC development and recurrence. Surveillance with a 6-monthly ultrasound is only recommended for selected patients with chronic hepatitis.”

Talking about the HBV virus, Dr Maya V, a Gynaecologist, at Ayu Health, told that the Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is an oncogenic virus that causes liver cancer at the same rate as someone who actively smokes one pack of cigarettes per day. 

For maintaining liver health and keeping yourself and your family safe from Hepatitis, it is important to go for regular checkups. Some essential tests include Autoimmune Blood Markers, Blood Tests for Hepatitis A, B, and C, and Liver Function Tests. Also, in case of fluid is filled in the abdomen, some physical examinations might be required to check the yellowing of the skin, enlarged liver, and liver scan. 

In this regard, Dr Sohini Sengupta at Redcliffe Labs suggests that one should not wait for the Hepatitis symptoms to appear. For a healthy liver and a healthier life, one should seek a hepatitis health check as a preventive measure periodically. It will keep you healthy and help you make informed decisions.

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