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.
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 where to get 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
From 2008 to 2016, Cancer Council NSW funded the B Positive program, to increase awareness of the link between chronic hepatitis B infection and liver cancer. While the B Positive program is now closed, enrolled participants will continue to receive high quality care from our General Practitioner collaborators.
Visit the B Positive website to find out more.
This website offers access to the B Positive information and education resources about hepatitis B and liver cancer, answering common questions of people affected by chronic hepatitis B or liver cancer.