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SILVER SPRING, MD | March 9, 2016– The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in collaboration with other cancer entities released the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975–2012 today to update rates of new cases, including death rates for the most common cancers in the nation.  Of particular note is that liver cancer deaths increased faster than any other type of cancer in the U.S., most of which show decreasing trends for men and women.  The increased liver cancer trend can be attributed to viral hepatitis B (HBV) and viral hepatitis C (HCV) which serve as primary causes of liver cancer and are preventable. A vaccination is available for HBV that can reduce the risk of liver cancer by 50% to 80%.  In addition, current treatment regimens for hepatitis C infection are associated with a 75% reduction in risk of liver cancer.

Hepatitis C affects an estimated 3.5 million people and 2.2 million people are living with the hepatitis B virus in the United States (U.S.). Globally, approximately 170-200 million people are impacted by HCV while chronic HBV affects approximately 350 million people. In total, more than 500 million people are affected by viral hepatitis worldwide.

The high incidence of liver disease is to be noted in the Report among hard to reach, hard to treat populations. These hard to reach, hard to treat population groups not only span racial and ethnic minorities, but also include injection drug users, the homeless, juveniles, incarcerated, and individuals covered under Medicaid. For example:

  1. Twice as many men as women were diagnosed with liver cancer across all population groups.
  2. From 2008 to 2012, non-Hispanic black men had the highest rates of liver cancer.
  3. Rates of liver cancer were the highest among American Indians/Alaska Natives, followed by non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islanders and Hispanics from 2008 to 2012.

“This is of grave concern but not unexpected.” said Ivonne Cameron, CEO, HFI.  “HFI receives calls daily from our constituents who are being denied or delayed treatment for these viral diseases, especially HCV treatment, because their fibrosis levels are deemed not severe enough.”   Board Chair, Karen Wirth stated, “Many patients are forced to delay early treatment and receive what may have been life-saving care only when the disease has significantly progressed throughout the liver.”

Cameron further stated, “We are seeing the evidence of delayed treatment indicated by these death rates in the Annual Report to the nation on Cancer.”  “We have the tools–vaccination, testing and medicines offer, however, there is a dire need to focus increased attention and additional resources, such as the newly launched Moonshot Initiative headed by Vice President Biden, on liver cancer,” said Wirth. Dane Christiansen, Vice Chair, HFI stated, “A more concerted effort to not only vaccinate, efficiently diagnose, and treat those with viral hepatitis no matter what their stage of disease progression can decrease and ultimately ameliorate liver cancer in the U.S.”

About HFI

The Hepatitis Foundation International (HFI) is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization established in 1994 working to eradicate chronic hepatitis for 550 million people globally. HFI is dedicated to increasing and promoting health and wellness; reducing the incidence of preventable liver-related chronic diseases, and lifestyles that negatively impact the liver.  Some of these diseases include: obesity, diabetes, hepatitis, substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular disease and fatty/liver cancer.  The HFI reaches well over 5 million patients and health care professionals annually through our public and private partnerships (www.HepatitisFoundation.org).