What Is Hep C’s Cancer Risk?

January 6, 2012

Over the last thirty years the liver cancer rate in the US has tripled, and studies are finding that may be due to the increased rate of Hep C infections.

Liver cancer is caused by scarring, and is traditionally associated with diseases like alcoholism. The new, higher rates of liver cancer are being attributed to newer diseases: obesity, which is increasingly wide spread, can cause fatty liver disease and lead to liver cancer, and Hep C—“The Silent Killer”—can slowly scar the liver, potentially leading to liver cancer not long after the infection is discovered.

This new correlation emphasizes the need for those born between 1945-1965 to get tested for Hepatitis C, even if they don’t have the traditional risks (promiscuous sex, drug use). Even in hospitals, needles were not consistently used responsibly fifty years ago, and not only are those in this age range at risk for Hep C, they’re at risk for Liver Cancer thanks to decades of scaring.

Symptoms of Hepatitis C may take decades to be readily identifiable in the body, and, if anything, initially appear as flu-like symptoms (generic infection symptoms such as fever, aches, chill). When symptoms finally do appear, it’s because the infection has become severe, and may have caused liver cancer or liver failure.

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