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Viral Hepatitis

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Who gets liver cancer?

for Veterans and the Public

Who gets liver cancer?

People with long-standing hepatitis C who develop cirrhosis are at increased risk of developing liver cancer. Those who do not develop cirrhosis usually do not develop liver cancer. Among people with both hepatitis C and cirrhosis living in the United States, about 1-4% per year will develop liver cancer.

Other groups of people also can develop liver cancer, including people with cirrhosis resulting from long-term heavy alcohol use and people with chronic hepatitis B. Those with hepatitis B have an increased risk even if cirrhosis has not developed. The risk of developing liver cancer is higher for people living in Asia and Africa than it is for people living the United States.

Experts recommend that persons with hepatitis C who have developed cirrhosis be tested regularly for signs of liver cancer, even if they have no symptoms. Testing for the presence of a disease before there are any symptoms is called "screening." Repeat testing, such as every 6 or 12 months, is called "surveillance."