Category Archives: Liver Cancer

County receives $6m grant to improve hepatitis C care

Share

Hepatitis C by the numbersKing County has received a four-year, $6 million grant to improve testing, treatment and cure rates of people with chronic HCV infection.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) affects large numbers of people in King County, but it often goes unnoticed until it’s too late.

“Thousands of people in King County have chronic HCV, but many don’t know they have it,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Chief of Communicable Disease & Epidemiology at Public Health – Seattle & King County. “This grant will allow us to make sure that patients with chronic HCV are not just identified, but also seen by a provider, receive follow-up testing, and get the care they need.”

The grant will fund the Hepatitis C Test & Cure Project, which will provide training for clinicians on the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of HCV and connect them to specialists. Continue reading

Share

New hepatitis C treatments – FDA Consumer Update

Share

fda-logo-thumbnailFrom the US Food and Drug Administration

At the approval of several new drugs for hepatitis C is  welcome news for baby boomers—who make up three of four adults with the hepatitis C virus—and millions of other Americans, many of whom don’t yet know they are infected and carriers, says the US Food and Drug Administration in this Consumer Update.

Hepatitis C can be cured, and today’s drug therapies are very effective and easier for patients to take, says Jeffrey S. Murray, M.D., the deputy director of the Division of Antiviral Products in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Murray is an internist who specializes in infectious diseases.

A Preventable and Curable Disease

Continue reading

Share

Know your hepatitis ABCs for Hepatitis Awareness Month – CDC

Share

From the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Graphic: Millions of Americans are living with viral hepatitis.

  • Hepatitis A: Outbreaks in the US do occur.
  • Hepatitis B: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have higher rates.
  • Hepatitis C: New treatments can cure the disease.

Viral hepatitis is a major global health threat and affects over 4.4 million Americans. In observance of May as Hepatitis Awareness Month, here are brief overviews of each of the three most common types of viral hepatitis in the United States: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.

Hepatitis A: Outbreaks in the US can and do occur

Continue reading

Share

National strategy needed to eliminate hepatitis C

Share

Hepatitis CBy Michael Ollove
Stateline Staff Writer
May 19, 2014

The U.S. is in the midst of a hepatitis C epidemic with as many as 3.9 million Americans infected with the liver-damaging virus.

Aggressively targeting a concentrated population with the contagious but curable disease could be the best approach to eradicating the deadly virus.

The most logical place to launch the counterattack is in the country’s jails and prisons, where the infection rate is about 17 percent, compared to 1 percent to 2 percent overall in the U.S., said Josiah Rich, a Brown University infectious disease physician.

A recent study estimated that 1.86 million people with the virus were incarcerated.

“With more than 10 million Americans cycling in and out of prisons and jails each year, including nearly one of every three HCV (hepatitis C)-infected people,” Rich said, “the criminal justice system may be the best place to efficiently identify and cure the greatest number of HCV-infected people.” Continue reading

Share

Who should get pricey hepatitis C drugs?

Share

 This KHN story was produced in collaboration with wapo

Simple math illustrates the challenge facing U.S. taxpayers, consumers and insurers following the launch late last year of two expensive new drugs to treat hepatitis C.

If all 3 million people estimated to be infected with the virus in America are treated at an average cost of $100,000 each, the amount the U.S. spends on prescription drugs would double, from about $300 billion in one year to more than $600 billion.

That prospect has inspired an unusually blunt public debate:  Should expensive treatments – one new drug costs $1,000 a pill — be limited only to the sickest patients, or is it appropriate to treat all who want the drugs immediately? And should those in taxpayer-funded programs have the same access? Continue reading

Share

There’s a life-saving hepatitis C drug. But you may not be able to afford it.

Share

Sovaldi logoBy Julie Appleby
KHN Staff Writer

MAR 03, 2014

This KHN story was produced in collaboration with 

There’s a new drug regimen being touted as a potential cure for a dangerous liver virus that causes hepatitis C.  But it costs $84,000 — or $1,000 a pill.

And that price tag is prompting outrage from some consumers and a scramble by insurers to figure out which patients should get the drug —and who pays for it.

Called Sovaldi, the drug is made by California-based Gilead Sciences Inc. and is the latest in handful of new treatments for hepatitis C, a chronic infection that afflicts at least 3 million Americans and is a leading cause of liver failure. It was approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration in December. Continue reading

Share
Asian American PI hepatitis thumbnail

Hepatitis B affects 1 in 12 Asians Americans and Pacific Islanders

Share

From the CDC

Hepatitis B is common in many parts of the world, with an estimated 350 million people living with the disease worldwide. In the US, an estimated 1.2 million Americans are infected.

However, hepatitis B disproportionately affects Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders because it is especially common in many Asian and Pacific Island countries.

While AAPIs make up less than 5% of the total U.S. population, they account for more than 50% of Americans living with chronic hepatitis B.

Asian American PI hepatitis

Hepatitis B is serious

Hepatitis B affects 1 in 12 Asian Americans; most don’t know it. Talk to a doctor about getting tested for Hepatitis B if you or your parents were born in Asia or the Pacific Islands.As many as 2 in 3 Asian Americans with hepatitis B don’t know they are infected

If left untreated, up to 25 percent of people with hepatitis B develop serious liver problems such as cirrhosis and even liver cancer. In the US, chronic hepatitis B infection results in thousands of deaths per year. Liver cancer caused by the hepatitis B virus is a leading cause of cancer deaths among Asian Americans.

People can live with hepatitis B without having any symptoms or feeling sick. Many people with chronic hepatitis B got infected as infants or young children. It is usually spread when someone comes into contact with blood from someone who has the virus.

As many as 2 in 3 AAPIs living with the virus do not know they are infected. Often, people do not know they have hepatitis B until they have been tested.

Who should get tested for Hepatitis B?

  • Anyone born in Asia or the Pacific Islands (except New Zealand and Australia)
  • Anyone born in the United States, who was not vaccinated at birth, and has at least one parent born in East or Southeast Asia (except Japan) or the Pacific Islands (except New Zealand and Australia)

Hepatitis B testing identifies people living with chronic hepatitis B so they can get medical care to help prevent serious liver damage. Testing also helps to find other people who may not have hepatitis B, but are at risk for getting infected. This can include people living with someone with hepatitis B.

For more information, talk to a doctor about getting tested for Hepatitis B.

More Information

Share

About one in five US adult cigarette smokers have tried an electronic cigarette

Share

eFrom the CDC

In 2011, about 21 percent of adults who smoke traditional cigarettes had used electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, up from about 10 percent in 2010, according to a study released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Overall, about six percent of all adults have tried e-cigarettes, with estimates nearly doubling from 2010.  This study is the first to report changes in awareness and use of e-cigarettes between 2010 and 2011.

During 2010–2011, adults who have used e-cigarettes increased among both sexes, non-Hispanic Whites, those aged 45–54 years, those living in the South, and current and former smokers and current and former smokers.

In both 2010 and 2011, e-cigarette use was significantly higher among current smokers compared to both former and never smokers.  Awareness of e-cigarettes rose from about four in 10 adults in 2010 to six in 10 adults in 2011.

“E-cigarette use is growing rapidly,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. “There is still a lot we don’t know about these products, including whether they will decrease or increase use of traditional cigarettes.”

Although e-cigarettes appear to have far fewer of the toxins found in smoke compared to traditional cigarettes, the impact of e-cigarettes on long-term health must be studied.

Research is needed to assess how e-cigarette marketing could impact initiation and use of traditional cigarettes, particularly among young people.

“If large numbers of adult smokers become users of both traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes — rather than using e-cigarettes to quit cigarettes completely — the net public health effect could be quite negative,” said Tim McAfee, MD MPH, director of the Office on Smoking and Health at CDC.

  • For quitting assistance, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit www.smokefree.gov.
  • Also, visit www.BeTobaccoFree.gov for information on quitting and preventing children from using tobacco.
Share
CA

U.S. cancer deaths continue long-term decline

Share

By Bill Robinson
NCI Cancer Bulletin

According to the latest national data, overall death rates from cancer declined from 2000 through 2009 in the United States, maintaining a trend seen since the early 1990s.

SR-inside

Mortality fell for most cancer types, including the four most common types of cancer in the United States (lungcolon and rectumbreast, and prostate), although the trend varied by cancer type and across racial and ethnic groups.

The complete “Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975–2009″ appeared January 7 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The report also includes a special section on cancers associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV) that shows that, from 2008 through 2010, incidence rates rose for HPV-associated oropharyngealanal, and vulvar cancers.

HPV vaccination rates in 2010 remained low among the target population of adolescent girls in the United States.

As in past years, NCI, the American Cancer Society (ACS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR) collaborated on the annual report.

Cancer incidence data came from NCI’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database and the CDC, with analyses of pooled data by NAACCR. Mortality data came from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Incidence Rates Vary, Death Rates Continue to Drop

Among men, the overall rate of cancer incidence fell by an average of 0.6 percent annually from 2000 through 2009. Cancer incidence rates were stable among women during the same time period and rose by 0.6 percent per year among children. (See the table.)

“The continuing drop in cancer mortality over the past two decades is reason to cheer . . . The challenge we now face is how to continue those gains in the face of new obstacles, like obesity and HPV infections.”

The declines in cancer mortality averaged 1.8 percent per year for men, 1.4 percent per year for women, and 1.8 percent for children (ages 0 to 14 years) from 2000 through 2009.

During the same period, death rates among men fell for 10 of the 17 most common cancers and rose for three types of cancer. Death rates among women fell for 15 of the 18 most common cancers and also rose for three types of cancer.

“The continuing drop in cancer mortality over the past two decades is reason to cheer,” said ACS Chief Executive Officer Dr. John R. Seffrin in a statement. “The challenge we now face is how to continue those gains in the face of new obstacles, like obesity and HPV infections. We must face these hurdles head on, without distraction, and without delay, by expanding access to proven strategies to prevent and control cancer.”

HPV Vaccination Rates Low

The special section on HPV-related cancers showed that from 2000 through 2009, incidence rates for HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer increased among white men and women, as did rates for anal cancer among white and black men and women. Incidence rates for cancer of the vulva also increased among white and black women.

However, cervical cancer rates declined among all women except American Indian/Alaska Natives. In addition, cervical cancer incidence rates were higher among women living in lower-income areas.

The annual report also showed that, in 2010, fewer than half (48.7 percent) of girls ages 13 through 17 had received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine, and only 32 percent had received all three recommended doses, a rate that fell well short of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2020 target of 80 percent.

The rate is also much lower than vaccination rates reported in Canada (50 to 85 percent) and the United Kingdom and Australia (both higher than 70 percent).

Vaccination series completion rates were generally lower among certain populations, including girls living in the South, those living below the poverty level, and Hispanics.

“The influence that certain viral infections can have on cancer rates is significant and continued attention to the effect[s] of HPV infection, in particular, on cervical cancer rates is critical,” said NCI Director Dr. Harold Varmus in a statement. “It is important, however, to note that the investments we have made in HPV research can only have the tremendous payoff of which they are capable if vaccination rates … increase.”

Cancer Incidence and Mortality Rates, 2000–2009

Men Women
Incidence Increase

  • kidney
  • pancreas
  • liver
  • thyroid
  • melanoma
  • myeloma

Decrease

  • prostate
  • lung
  • colorectal
  • stomach
  • larynx
Increase

  • thyroid
  • melanoma
  • kidney
  • pancreas
  • leukemia
  • liver
  • corpus and uterus

Decrease

  • lung
  • colorectal
  • bladder
  • cervix
  • oral cavity and pharynx
  • ovary
  • stomach
Mortality Increase

  • melanoma
  • liver
  • pancreas

Decrease

  • lung
  • prostate
  • colon and rectum
  • non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • kidney
  • stomach
  • myeloma
  • oral cavity and pharynx
  • larynx
  • leukemia
Increase

  • pancreas
  • liver
  • corpus and uterus

Decrease

  • lung
  • breast
  • colon and rectum
  • leukemia
  • non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • brain and other nervous system
  • myeloma
  • kidney
  • stomach
  • cervix
  • bladder
  • esophagus
  • oral cavity and pharynx
  • ovary
  • gallbladder

The NCI Cancer Bulletin is an award-winning biweekly online newsletter designed to provide useful, timely information about cancer research to the cancer community. The newsletter is published approximately 24 times per year by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), with day-to-day operational oversight conducted by federal and contract staff in the NCI Office of Communications and Education. The material is entirely in the public domain and can be repurposed or reproduced without permission. Citation of the source is appreciated.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Share
Click Image for More Information about Hepatitis C

All baby boomers should be screened for hepatitis C – CDC

Share

Click Image for More Information about Hepatitis C

All U.S. baby boomers should be tested for the hepatitis C virus, according to final recommendations published today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One in 30 baby boomers – the generation born from 1945 through 1965 – has been infected with hepatitis C, and most don’t know it, the CDC says.

Hepatitis C causes serious liver diseases, including liver cancer (the fastest-rising cause of cancer-related deaths) and is the leading cause of liver transplants in the United States.

The final recommendations are published in today’s issue of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

“A one-time blood test for hepatitis C should be on every baby boomer’s medical checklist,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.

CDC’s previous recommendations called for testing only individuals with certain known risk factors for hepatitis C infection.

Risk-based screening will continue to be important, but is not sufficient alone, CDC officials said.

More than 2 million U.S. baby boomers are infected with hepatitis C – accounting for more than 75 percent of all American adults living with the virus.

Studies show that many baby boomers were infected with the virus decades ago, do not perceive themselves to be at risk, and have never been screened.

More than 15,000 Americans, most of them baby boomers, die each year from hepatitis C-related illness, such as cirrhosis and liver cancer, and deaths have been increasing steadily for over a decade and are projected to grow significantly in coming years.

CDC estimates one-time hepatitis C testing of baby boomers could identify more than 800,000 additional people with hepatitis C.

And with newly available therapies that can cure up to 75 percent of infections, expanded testing – along with linkage to appropriate care and treatment – would prevent the costly consequences of liver cancer and other chronic liver diseases and save more than 120,000 lives.

For additional information about hepatitis, visit www.cdc.gov/hepatitis

Local Resources:

Enhanced by Zemanta
Share
Gilda's Club Seattle Logo

You’ve been treated for cancer — now what?

Share

Treatment Summaries and Surviorship Care Planning

What do you do when you’ve finished treatment?

How do you coordinate your ongoing care with your Primary Care doc?

How do you keep track of your medical records and get the right information to the right people about what you’ve been through?

Now we have some answers.

  • Debra Loacker, RN, will provide an overview of the valuable information provided in cancer treatment summary and the survivorship care plan. You will learn where to obtain a copy of your own treatment summary, and how your doctor can use it.
  • Patricia Read-Williams, MD, will share her perspective as a Primary Care Provider on the importance of these documents in the care provided to cancer survivors.

When:

6/21/12 , 6:45-8:30 p.m.

Where:

Gilda’s Club Seattle • 1400 Broadway, Seattle, WA 98122

Phone: 206.709.1400 • info@gildasclubseattle.org • www.gildasclubseattle.org


Gilda’s Club Seattle

Gilda’s Club is a non-profit group that provides meeting places where men, women and children living with cancer and their families and friends join with others to build emotional, social and educational support as a supplement to medical care.

The club’s services are free and include support and networking groups, lectures, workshops and social events in a nonresidential, homelike setting.

The club is named in honor of Gilda Susan Radner was an American comedienne and actress, best known for her years as a cast member of Saturday Night Live.

Radner, who died at 42 of ovarian cancer, helped raise the public’s awareness of the disease and the need for improved detection and treatment.

Lectures are held on Thursday evenings at Gilda’s Club, 1400 Broadway, Seattle.

Please RSVP to attend.

Refreshments served 6:45-7:00 pm

Lecture begins 7:00-8:30 pm

All lectures are open to the public. There is no cost to attend our lectures.

Please RSVP 24+ hours in advance to attend and pre-register for Noogieland childcare a minimum of 72 hours in advance.

When:

6/21/12 , 6:45-8:30 p.m.

Where:

Gilda’s Club Seattle • 1400 Broadway, Seattle, WA 98122

Phone: 206.709.1400 • info@gildasclubseattle.org • www.gildasclubseattle.org

 

Enhanced by Zemanta
Share
death-rates-graph-thumb

U.S. cancer deaths continue steady decline

Share

By Sharon Reynolds
NCI Cancer Bulletin Staff Writer 

According to the latest data on nationwide death rates from cancer, overall mortality from cancer declined from 1999 to 2008, maintaining a trend seen since the early 1990s.

Mortality fell for most cancer types, including the four most common types of cancer in the United States (lungcolorectalbreast, and prostate), although the rate of decline varied by cancer type and across racial and ethnic groups.

The complete Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975–2008 appeared March 28 in Cancer.

The declines in cancer death rates (mortality) averaged 1.7 percent per year for men and 1.3 percent per year for women from 1999 through 2008.

Among men, the overall rate of new cancer cases (incidence) fell by an average of 0.6 percent annually from 1999 to 2008.

Among women, incidence dropped by an average of 0.5 percent annually from 1999 to 2006 but held steady from 2006 to 2008.

Cancer incidence in children ages 0 to 14 rose from 1999 to 2008 (by 0.5 percent a year), continuing a trend seen in previous Annual Reports to the Nation.

However, advances in treatment contributed to a steady decline in mortality rates for children with cancer in the last 5 years (an average of 2.8 percent per year).

“Steady progress, as measured by declines in cancer death rates for many cancers, is good because we have an aging, growing population,” said Dr. Brenda K. Edwards, NCI’s senior advisor for surveillance.

“While the number of people diagnosed with cancer or who die of the disease may be increasing, the decline in cancer death rates for more than a decade is the best indicator of progress due to prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment,” she added.

NCI, the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR) collaborated on the report. Cancer incidence data came from NCI’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database and from the CDC, with analyses of pooled data by NAACCR. Mortality data came from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Not All Good News

There were some notable exceptions to the overall decreases in incidence and mortality. From 1999 to 2008, death rates rose for pancreatic cancer in men and women, for liver cancer and melanoma in men, and for endometrial cancer in women.

The cervical cancer death rate, which had been falling for decades, showed no further decrease over the last 5 years.

And, although incidence rates fell overall for men and women from 1999 to 2008, the decline was not distributed evenly across racial and ethnic groups.

Cancer incidence rates did not decrease significantly among American Indian/Alaska Native men and women combined or among black, Asian and Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native women.

Although incidence rates in black men did decline, this group still had the highest cancer incidence rate of any racial and ethnic group, 15 percent higher than that of white men and nearly double that of Asian and Pacific Islander men.

Major Modifiable Risk Factors

Each Annual Report to the Nation includes a special feature that focuses on a topic of importance to the cancer research community and the public.

This year’s report featured an analysis on the contribution of excess weight (overweight and obesity) and insufficient physical activity to the nation’s cancer burden.

More than 60 percent of the U.S. adult population is estimated to be overweight or obese, and a similar percentage of adults do not get the recommended amount of physical activity.

The rates of insufficient physical activity are even worse for children; for example, up to 90 percent of high school girls do not engage in recommended levels of physical activity.

Excess weight “is a major modifiable risk factor for cancer and other diseases—probably second only to tobacco use in terms of its impact on cancer incidence and mortality,” said Dr. Edwards. “The risk may be modest but it’s so pervasive that we felt this was the time to look at [cancer] incidence in this context.” Physical inactivity not only contributes to excess weight but is itself a risk factor for several cancer types.

The report was not designed to quantitatively link the trends in excess weight and lack of physical activity to the national trends for cancer, explained Dr. Rachel Ballard-Barbash, associate director of the Applied Research Program in NCI’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences.

Many other studies have shown convincing links between excess weight and several cancer types, including endometrial, postmenopausal breast, colorectal, kidneyesophageal, and pancreatic cancer.

The point of the special feature, she noted, “is to highlight specific types of cancer that are related to [excess weight and lack of sufficient physical activity], show how these behaviors relate to these cancers in terms of their relative risks, and briefly describe some of the mechanisms by which they relate.”

The special feature also highlights national- and state-level prevention strategies in policy and environmental change that are intended to help people achieve recommended changes in their diets and physical activity levels.

As the nation’s weight has risen, so has the incidence of some, although not all, types of cancer related to excess weight and lack of sufficient physical activity. From 1999 to 2008, incidence rates of kidney cancer and of adenocarcinoma of the esophagus each rose about 3 percent per year for men and women, while incidence of pancreatic cancer rose 1.2 percent per year among men and women.

In addition, incidence rates of endometrial cancer rose significantly among black, Asian and Pacific Islander, and Hispanic women. Incidence of postmenopausal breast cancer stabilized from 2005 to 2008, after a period of decline.

“Although all of these cancers are influenced by multiple factors, the high prevalence of excess weight and insufficient physical activity likely contributed to these observed increases and to the lack of decline in breast cancer,” the authors wrote. “Continued progress in reducing cancer incidence and mortality rates will be difficult without success in promoting healthy weight and physical activity, particularly among youth.”

Excess weight and lack of physical activity also influence cancer survivorship, explained Dr. Ballard-Barbash, as both can negatively affect outcomes after a cancer diagnosis, further increasing the need for these risk factors to be addressed on a personal and societal level.

The NCI Cancer Bulletin is an award-winning biweekly online newsletter designed to provide useful, timely information about cancer research to the cancer community. The newsletter is published approximately 24 times per year by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), with day-to-day operational oversight conducted by federal and contract staff in the NCI Office of Communications and Education. The material is entirely in the public domain and can be repurposed or reproduced without permission. Citation of the source is appreciated.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Share
Globe floating in air

Cancer’s impact in developing world goes unrecognized – panel

Share

Cancer’s impact on the developing world goes largely unrecognized and unaddressed, panelists said at a Seattle World Affairs Council event held Wednesday night at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

While there is a tendency to think of infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS when we think about global health, said Dr. Lawrence Corey, president and director of the Hutchinson Center and a leading HIV expert, cancer takes far more lives in the developing world than HIV.

In fact, of the 7.6 million cancer deaths estimated to occur worldwide each year, 65 percent occur in middle- and low-income countries, Dr. Corey noted.

Indeed, the risk of developing cancer for a person living in the developing world is roughly the same as that of someone living in the developed world, Dr. Corey said. “Just like in the U.S., it is unlikely that a family (in the developing world) is untouched by cancer.”

Many of the leading cancers are the same as those seen in the developed world, lung cancer, particularly among men, and breast cancer among women, Corey said.

But, in addition, there is a high rate of cancer due to infectious agents: liver cancer, due to hepatitis B and C infections; stomach cancer, due to infection by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori; and cervical cancer due to infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV), Dr. Corey said.

HIV infection, too, is a major factor behind the rising cancer rates seen among young people in countries like South Africa, Dr. Corey said. These HIV-related cancers include: cervical, anal and liver cancer; Kaposi’s sarcoma; and lymphomas.

So in addition to tackling issues like smoking and promoting screening for breast and cervical cancers, addressing these infectious agents with vaccines and treatment is needed to reduce cancer rates in the developing world, Dr. Corey said.

Two panelists, Amal Khaleef, a care nurse specialist on the West Bank, and Dr. Saud Al Kharusi, an oncologist and acting head of the National Oncology Center at the Royal Hospital in Oman, agreed that too often patients in their countries do not seek care until their diseases is far advanced.

Part of the problem is the stigma associated with cancer, they said. Cancer is not discussed, so public awareness about the benefits of screening and treatment is low, Khaleef said. “They call it ‘that’ disease; they can’t even say its name,” she said.

The fourth panelist, Dr. Yermek Akhmetov, head of the Nuclear Medicine and Radiology Center at the Republican Diagnostic Center in Kazakhstan said his country had made some progress in raising cancer awareness using public education programs developed by international organizations. Still, it is hard to reach people in his largely rural country, he said.

Despite the challenges, the world’s experience with fighting HIV/AIDS, shows that difficult diseases like cancer can be tackled even in resource-poor nations in the developing world, Dr. Corey said.

HIV/AIDS treatment regimens, which require screening, frequent monitoring and daily medications, are just as demanding as the treatment regimens for many cancers, he noted.

“HIV has shown you can treat chronic diseases in the developing world,” Dr. Corey said.

To learn more:

  • Read the article the Hutchinson Center’s Quest magazine about an effort to tackle infection-related cancers in Uganda.
  • Visit the World Affairs Council’s website.
Share
Hepatitis Awareness Month Logo

UW students team up with community groups to tackle hepatitis

Share

By Celina Kareiva

The hepatitis B virus, or HBV, is a leading cause of liver cancer, so when Connie Chan’s grandfather was diagnosed with liver cancer, all the members of her family wondered if they too might be infected with the cancer-causing virus.

“It was scary,” said Chan, a student of public health at the University of Washington “He could have transmitted it to everyone in the family and no one might have known.”

In the end, it turned out her grandfather did not carry HBV. Nevertheless, the scare led Chan to want to learn more about the virus, so in January she joined UW’s Team HBV, a chapter of a national organization dedicated to raising awareness of the risks of hepatitis B infection and to promoting testing and vaccination, particularly among Asian and Pacific Islanders (APIs) and other immigrant communities.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that between 800,000 and 1.4 million Americans have chronic HBV infections—and that two-thirds don’t know they carry the virus.

HBV virions -- CDC

APIs are at particular risk: although they make up about 4.5 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 50 percent of the cases of chronic hepatitis B infection.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders not only have the highest rates of chronic infection, the CDC says, they also have a higher risk of developing liver cancer as a result of the infection than do other racial and ethnic groups.

In fact, liver cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death among Asian American, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander groups, whereas liver cancer is 16th leading cause of cancer among non-Hispanic whites.

Vaccination can prevent infection and treatment is available for infection.

Earlier this month, Chan joined with fellow students, health professionals and community members at the 2011 Hepatitis B Forum, one of a series of community events this May to mark Viral Hepatitis Month.

Among the event’s participants were Virginia Mason Medical Center, International Community Health Services, and Harborview Medical Center .

The partnership with the international community, said Kim Nguyen, program manager for the Hepatitis B Coalition of Washington, which organized the forum, is important because it offers innovative approaches to tackling a virus that disproportionately affects many foreign-born populations.

“Many [of those infected] don’t know they have it because it’s a silent virus, it doesn’t show symptoms readily or quickly,” Nguyen said.

HBV is most commonly transmitted through contact with blood and infected bodily fluids. Intravenous drug use and sexual activity are common causes of its spread, but many infants are infected during childbirth if their mothers carry the virus.

In underdeveloped countries, many mothers lack basic prenatal care and so give birth without screening for such viruses as hepatitis B, Nguyen explained, and if HBV is contracted in infancy, individuals are significantly more likely to develop a chronic infection.

People who are at highest risk are those who are born overseas in regions where rates of HBV infection are high. This includes Southeast Asia and China but also sub-Saharan Africa, home to many of the region’s new immigrants, said Nguyen.

Prevalence of HBV surface antigen a sign chronic infection -- CDC

In many of these regions, HBV infection carries a social stigma making frank discussion about the disease difficult, says Chan. “It’s related to sex and drugs and that’s not really talked about as openly as in America,” she said.

To encourage discussion, Chan and others are developing “ethnically sensitive” awareness campaigns.

In one campaign, Chan and her teammates at the University of Washington made life-sized posters of individuals holding signs about HBV and displayed them throughout campus to encourage students to get informed.

The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center with the help of several community partners has created informational pamphlets in Chinese, Farsi, Korean, Punjabi, Khmer and Vietnamese.

Progress is being made, said Nguyen, several community health fairs are now offering hepatitis B testing in addition to the usual high blood pressure and diabetes screening.

But more and broader outreach is necessary, says Nguyen, as immigration patterns have changed and more and more people arrive in the region from East and sub-Saharan Africa, so has the face of hepatitis B.

Celina Kareiva is a contributing writer for Seattle LocalHealthGuide, Seattle Weekly and Real Change. She is a graduate student in the Journalism program at the University of Washington and has written and edited for the student paper, The Daily.

To learn more:

Share
Hep Thumb

Hepatitis B and liver cancer — free community workshop next Saturday

Share

The Hepatitis B Community Engagement Project is hosting a community workshop on hepatitis B and liver cancer next Saturday at the Asian Counseling & Referral Services Community Hall.

The half-day event, called B Informed Now! Patient & Community Workshop on Hepatitis B & Living with Liver Cancer, is free and breakfast and lunch–as well as and Cantonese, Mandarin, and Vietnamese interpretation–will be provided.

Hepatitis B is a viral infection of the liver that can, if it becomes chronic, cause cirrhosis and liver cancer.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that as many as two million people in the U.S. have chronic hepatitis B infections.

Hepatitis viruses - Photo: E.H. Cook/CDC

Of these, more than half are Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, or other Pacific Islanders.

These groups not only have the highest rates of chronic infection, the CDC says, they also have a higher risk of developing liver cancer as a result of the infection than do other racial and ethnic groups.

In fact, liver cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death among Asian American, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander groups, whereas liver cancer is 16th leading cause of cancer among non-Hispanic whites.

The risk of chronic hepatitis B infection is highest among foreign-born Asian Americans and other Pacific Islanders with approximately 10 percent being affected, the CDC says.

There is an vaccine to prevent infection, and, while there is no cure, there are drugs that can reduce the risk of liver damage due to the virus.

The workshop’s talks will be given by Dr. Chia Wang, an infectious disease specialist at Virginia Mason Medical Center and Dr. Stephen Chen, a cancer specialist at Polyclinic First Hill.

The workshop’s organizer, the Hepatitis B Community Engagement Project, is a collaborative initiative between the Hepatitis B Coalition of WA and International Community Health Services.

The event is sponsored by the Hepatitis B Foundation, a national nonprofit research and disease advocacy organization, and Seattle Public Schools.

TITLE:

  • B Informed Now! Patient & Community Workshop on Hepatitis B & Living with Liver Cancer

WHEN:

  • Saturday, Dec. 4th, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Registration begins at 8:30 p.m.
  • Free but RSVP requested. To RSVP: call 206-788-3687 or email kimn@withinreachwa.org

WHERE:

  • Asian Counseling & Referral Services (ACRS) Community Hall
  • 3639 Martin Luther King Jr. Way S., Seattle, WA 98144

To learn more about hepatitis B

  • Visit the National Library of Medicine’s Hepatitis B information page, which provides basic information as well as links to a wealth of online resources.
  • Visit Public Health – Seattle & King County’s Hepatitis B information page, which has information about the virus in Burmese, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Somali and Vietnamese.
Share