Reducing your risk of developing liver cancer from hepatitis B

Infection with hepatitis B is the biggest known risk factor for developing primary liver cancer in Australia. People with chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis C infections have a 20 – 100 times increased risk of developing primary liver cancer.

Chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus and the risk of developing liver cancer is most common in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia and among Australian residents born in Vietnam, China, Indonesia, Korea, Hong Kong and Macau.

The hepatitis B virus affects the liver cells. This stimulates the immune system to attack the virus. However, the immune response causes inflammation in the liver, which can lead to ongoing damage.

Read more about hepatitis B.
Read more about liver cancer.

Many people may not know they have hepatitis B virus because it doesn’t often show or cause symptoms. While the disease leads to symptoms in many people, they eventually clear the virus and do not progress to chronic infection and life-threatening disease.

Chronic hepatitis B is a life-long illness and can eventually lead to severe liver disease and liver cancer if left untreated. Studies have shown that early detection of chronic hepatitis B can halve your risk of getting liver cancer.

How do I know if I have hepatitis B?

A blood test from your doctor can confirm if you have the virus.
Find out more about getting tested for hepatitis B.

The Hepatitis B vaccination

To reduce the spread of hepatitis B and the incidence of primary liver cancer, it is recommended that all people at the risk of acquiring chronic hepatitis B receive a vaccination against the virus.

Read more about the hepatitis B vaccination.

B Positive Program for people diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B

If you find out you have chronic hepatitis B, talk to your doctor about enrolling in Cancer Council NSW’s B Positive program.

The B Positive Program provides access to the most up-to-date information on liver health maintenance in English, Vietnamese, Mandarin and Cantonese languages. Along with your doctor, we help in making a personalised health-care plan to look after the health of your liver.

You will receive:

  • reminder letters to visit your doctor every six months
  • current liver health information (via your doctor)
  • referrals to visit liver specialists when necessary
  • invitations to community forums.

B Positive relies on the capacity of the health system to support participants through no-cost testing and follow-up treatment via GPs and clinical specialists. The program aims to raise community awareness about chronic hepatitis B and its link to liver cancer.

Visit the B Positive website to find out more.

Or call:

(02) 9334 1608 for the Mandarin and Cantonese phone line

(02) 9334 1431 for Mamta Porwal, the B Positive Program Manager

Join the program

Please fill in your details below to have a B Positive team member contact you and provide you with more information on how to join the program.

FORM link to separate page