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By: RSC Editorial Team

May 3, 2023

Can Hepatitis B Lead To Liver Cancer?

Hepatitis B is a disease caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). This virus can travel through your bloodstream and attack vital organs — primarily your liver. Still you may wonder, “Can hepatitis B lead to liver cancer?”

This article will discuss why HBV contributes to over 54% of all liver cancer cases, and essential information to protect yourself from infection, including:

  • The fundamentals of HBV — what it is and how it spreads
  • Common risk factors
  • How HBV impacts different areas of the body
  • The symptoms of liver cancer
  • Effective HBV treatments and prevention

Chronic Hepatitis

Medical experts organize hepatitis B infections into two categories: Acute hepatitis and chronic hepatitis. 

Individuals with acute hepatitis may not experience any symptoms after exposure. In most cases, adults with healthy immune systems may overcome this condition quickly and experience no further concerns.

However, acute infections can escalate into chronic hepatitis over time — leading to severe or long-lasting inflammation of the liver. Infants, men who have sex with men, and those with multiple sexual partners are most at risk for developing chronic hepatitis. Without effective testing at medical centers like Rapid STD Testing, untreated HBV can lead to life-threatening conditions.

The chronic hepatitis B life expectancy depends on your health and age. Most infected individuals can live full lives with HBV, so long as they do not develop common cancers.

HBV transmission occurs through:

  • Body Fluids: Many people contract hepatitis B from sexual contact. The virus can spread through bodily fluids during vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse. Seeking a rapid STD test can help you identify this infection quickly.
  • Childbirth: Infants can contract HBV from their infected mothers. Early treatment can prevent this infection from escalating into a chronic infection. Most hospitals administer vaccines within 24 hours of birth to prevent unnecessary complications.
  • Needles: Dirty tattoo guns and interveinal drugs can transmit HBV. Infected blood in the syringe can deliver a potent amount of HBV directly into the body. 

Some people wonder, “Can hep B be transmitted through saliva, kissing, or sharing utensils?” It is unlikely that you will catch HBV from saliva. However, hepatitis B outside the body can survive for up to a week, so use caution around others’ bodily fluids.

Symptoms

Common hepatitis B symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Joint pain 
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Discoloration in urine
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Discoloration in the eyes
  • Insomnia

How Hepatitis B Affects the Body

Can hepatitis B lead to liver cancer? First, consider how the virus affects various parts of your body.

The hepatitis B virus can activate immuno-suppressive cells (MDSCs, NK-reg, and T-reg cells) — crippling your body’s ability to identify and attack outside invaders. Consequently, HBV can travel into your liver and kidneys, causing inflammation.

Evidence suggests that HBV contributes to kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) can result in hypertension, cognitive decline, swelling, and even organ failure. Doctors can run blood tests to determine your risk of developing CKD from an HBV infection.

Reduced quality of life can also lead to mental health decline. Those living with chronic hepatitis B may feel a sense of shame, loneliness, or depression.

Some patients wonder, “Can someone have hepatitis B and not know it?” According to the latest research, most people with acute illnesses do not experience symptoms. Still, rapidly multiplying HBV can eat away at your liver and cause scar tissue to form on the soft organ. 

So, can hep B lead to liver cancer? These liver infections can develop into liver cancer over time, creating potentially fatal health complications. 

Risk of Liver Cancer

Medical professionals identify four stages of liver cancer:

  • Stage One: A tumor may begin to develop around your liver. However, this mass does not yet affect nearby blood vessels or lymph nodes. In many cases, doctors can treat cancer effectively during this early stage.
  • Stage Two: During the second stage, multiple tumors may begin to grow around your liver, sometimes affecting the blood vessels. At this point, your liver may stop functioning correctly and suffer from inflammation.
  • Stage Three: Tumors around your liver grow larger than five centimeters. However, they remain local to the organ. At this stage, the tumors may begin to block large liver veins, such as your hepatic vein.
  • Stage Four: At the final stage, the cancer spreads from your liver to other areas of the body, like the bones or lymph nodes. It can be challenging to treat late-stage cancer, and even surgery may not provide ideal outcomes. 

Liver cancer is more prevalent in men than women. Moreover, Asian and Hispanic Americans are at higher risk than other ethnicities. Certain lifestyle habits can increase your risk of contracting liver cancer from HBV, including:

  • Frequent alcohol consumption
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Tobacco use
  • Overconsumption of wheat, rice, corn, and soybeans

Diabetes and alpha1-antitrypsin deficiencies can also increase your risk of developing liver cancer. Talk to your doctor to learn how you can prevent these diseases from negatively impacting your life. They may recommend same-day STD testing from Rapid STD Testing as the first step toward preventive care.

Treatment and Prevention

Can hepatitis B lead to liver cancer if you treat the virus early? In some cases, treating the virus before it has time to attack your liver can significantly reduce your risk of developing cancer. There are several ways to treat and prevent HBV infections.

First, stay vigilant of your environment and lifestyle habits to avoid infections.

For example, you can reduce the likelihood of transmission during sex by using latex or polyurethane condoms. Despite many contraceptives providing adequate protection, these methods do not eliminate the risk of transmission completely. Abstaining from sexual intercourse and interveinal drugs is the only way to prevent the risk of HBV transmission through bodily fluids.

Suppose you still contract HBV. Doctors can prescribe antiviral medications, like entecavir, tenofovir, and lamivudine, to alleviate symptoms and improve your immune response. These medications are particularly useful if you did not receive an HBV vaccine.

Hepatitis B Vaccine

Getting the HBV vaccine is the best way to reduce your risk of transmission. These medically proven solutions are safe, accessible to most American communities, and recommended by immunologists around the world. 

The vaccine administers dead HBV into the body, allowing immune response cells to recognize these invaders and attack them quickly. You will not contract HBV by accident from a vaccination. These medical solutions do not contain any live viruses that will multiply in your blood.

You may ask, “Can you get hep B even if vaccinated with HBV suppressive drugs?” Assuming you complete all trials — three doses administered several months apart — you will have protection for life. Hence, it is nearly impossible to contract hepatitis B when vaccinated. 

Your doctor can help you understand the pros and cons of getting a hepatitis B vaccine during your annual examination. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you have concerns about your risk factors or the science behind this preventative method. 

Doctors recommend the hepatitis B vaccine to people of all ages. Most states also require hepatitis B vaccinations for children under 19 as a prerequisite for school.

Test Yourself With Rapid STD Testing

At Rapid STD Testing, we make screening for viral and bacterial infections easy with our 10-panel STD test kit. Schedule a test at one of our facilities to avoid diseases, like hepatitis B, that could lead to liver transplants or chemotherapy.

Can hepatitis B lead to liver cancer? Schedule a screening with Rapid STD Testing near you.

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By: RSC Editorial Team
May 3, 2023

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