By Nikki Hayes, MPH
Chief, Comprehensive Cancer Control Branch, CDC
You’ve heard of mammograms to find breast cancer and tests to find colorectal (colon) cancer. But do you know how to help prevent liver cancer?
There’s no screening test for liver cancer. But there is a screening test for hepatitis C, which is the leading cause of liver cancer.
What Is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is inflammation in the liver that is caused by infection by a virus or by alcohol abuse. There are several types of viral hepatitis. A, B, and C are the most common. Any of the hepatitis viruses can cause liver problems, including deadly liver cancer.
Do You Need to Get Tested for Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C has been called a “silent epidemic” because most people who have it don’t know they are infected. Also, as addiction to opioid painkillers becomes more common, the number of people with hepatitis C is going up, too.
People born between 1945 and 1965 have 75% of all hepatitis C infections among all adults. So if you saw the Beatles debut, gave peace a chance, or were a disco baby, chances are you’re five times more likely than other adults to have hepatitis C. And we know that liver disease and liver cancer are on the rise.
Finding out whether you have the virus is the first step. Ask your doctor about a test at your next checkup. If you have hepatitis C, there are things you and your doctor can do to help you avoid more severe liver disease or liver cancer.
February Is Cancer Prevention Month!
CDC’s National Comprehensive Cancer Control Program is helping states, territories, and tribal areas in the United States keep their residents over 50—and everyone else, too—up-to-date about ways to help prevent liver cancer.
If you want to know more about hepatitis C, or if you may be at risk for other types of hepatitis, CDC can help.