Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Unmask hepatitis B before it turns into liver cancer

Canadian Liver Foundation urges Ontarians with chronic hepatitis B to undergo testing every 6 months

TORONTO, July 23, 2013 /Canada NewsWire/ - When you eat right, exercise and generally feel healthy, it's easy to forget that you're living with a potentially deadly virus. Faced with an almost one in four chance of developing liver cancer or other complications of advanced liver disease however, Ontarians living with chronic hepatitis B cannot afford to be complacent. That is why the Canadian Liver Foundation is urging those with chronic hepatitis B to undergo viral load testing and liver cancer screening every six months.

"When you don't have any symptoms and believe that you're making all the right lifestyle decisions, you can develop a false sense of security that your disease isn't progressing" says Dr. Morris Sherman, Chairman of the Canadian Liver Foundation and a liver cancer specialist at Toronto General Hospital. "Unfortunately, chronic hepatitis B is one of the most common causes of liver cancer so it's important to stay vigilant. Regular screening can identify liver cancer at a very early stage when it is most treatable."

Earlier this year, the Canadian Liver Foundation released a report that showed that hepatitis B is one of the leading forms of liver disease and that the mortality rates for hepatitis B-related liver cancer are destined to rise by 50% by 2020. Recently released cancer statistics identified liver cancer as one of the fastest rising forms of cancer in Canada.

Ontario has the highest population of people with chronic hepatitis B in all of Canada due in part to the flow of immigrants from countries where hepatitis B is very common. The Canadian Liver Foundation is launching a new awareness campaign that will focus on Ontarians that have already been diagnosed with hepatitis B but are not undergoing treatment or being regularly screened. The campaign will encourage them to talk to their doctors about monitoring and how to best manage their disease for the sake of their long-term health and for their families.

The new awareness campaign will roll-out in doctors' offices first, followed by a mass media launch with radio and print ads, billboards and social media just in time for World Hepatitis Day (July 28).

For more information on hepatitis B and liver cancer, visit www.liver.ca or email hepbinfo@liver.ca. The CLF's Liver Disease in Canada Report is available for download at www.liver.ca/advocate

Facts about chronic hepatitis B:

...Babies and young children are at the greatest risk of developing chronic hepatitis B if not vaccinated at birth.

...Hepatitis B ranks 5th among all infectious diseases in Ontario for morbidity and mortality

...An estimated 25% of males and 8-10% of females with untreated hepatitis B will die from complications of their disease (i.e. cirrhosis, liver cancer, liver failure)

About the Canadian Liver Foundation

Founded in 1969 by a group of doctors and business leaders concerned about the increasing incidence of liver disease, the Canadian Liver Foundation (CLF) was the first organization in the world devoted to providing support for research and education into the causes, diagnoses, prevention and treatment of all liver disease. Through its chapters across the country, the CLF strives to promote liver health, improve public awareness and understanding of liver disease, raise funds for research and provide support to individuals affected by liver disease.