Hepatitis B and C: Risk of Liver Cancer
People who are infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C (HCV) virus may develop a chronic infection that can lead to cirrhosis. The damage that results increases the risk of liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma).
If you have chronic HBV infection:
- You may develop liver cancer even if you do not have cirrhosis. But most people who have HBV and liver cancer also have cirrhosis.
- Receiving antiviral therapy to treat chronic HBV infection may lower your risk for developing liver cancer.
If you have chronic HCV infection:
- The strain (genotype) of HCV infection does not appear to affect your risk for developing liver cancer.
- You are not at significant risk of developing cancer unless you also already have cirrhosis.
- You are at greatly increased risk of liver cancer if you have alcohol-related cirrhosis in addition to hepatitis.
- Receiving antiviral therapy to treat chronic HCV infection may lower your risk for developing liver cancer.
Screening with ultrasound of the liver, liver function tests, and blood tests (including alpha-fetoprotein [AFP]) every 6 to 12 months is recommended for people at risk of liver cancer.
Current as of: July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
W. Thomas London MD - Hepatology