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Cancer is a disease in which cells become abnormal and form more cells in an uncontrolled way. With liver cancer, the cancer begins in the tissues that make up the liver. Asian-Americans have the highest rates of liver cancer in the United States. This is because Asian-Americans have high rates of hepatitis B, which is the main cause of liver cancer worldwide. Other risk factors for liver cancer include:
- Having hepatitis C; having both hepatitis B and hepatitis C increases the risk even more.
- Having a close relative with both hepatitis and liver cancer.
- Having cirrhosis, which can be caused by:
- Hepatitis (especially hepatitis C).
- Drinking too much alcohol for many years or being an alcoholic.
- Eating foods tainted with aflatoxin (poison from a fungus that can grow on foods, such as grains and nuts, that have not been stored properly).
Liver cancer often has no early sign or symptoms. Certain people at very high risk of getting liver cancer may be helped by screening tests that look for liver cancer before symptoms occur. If you have chronic hepatitis B, especially if you got it as a baby or child, talk to your doctor about your risk and whether you might benefit from liver cancer screening.
If you don't know if you have hepatitis B, get tested. If you do not have it, ask your doctor if you need the hepatitis B vaccine. This vaccine can stop 100 percent of liver cancers caused by hepatitis B.
Explore other publications and websites
Asian Pacific Islander Cancer Education Materials Tool (Copyright © American Cancer Society) — This catalog of information about cancer provides links to websites that offer Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Native Hawaiians education materials on a variety of cancer topics.
For Hepatitis B and Liver Cancer Patients (Copyright © Stanford School of Medicine) — This resource provides information for those with liver cancer. It discusses the screening process, the diagnostic methods, and treatment for the disease.
KNOW HBV: What Every Asian and Pacific Islander Should Know about Hepatitis B and Liver Cancer (Copyright © Asian Liver Center) — Most people who are infected with hepatitis B don’t know they have it. Hepatitis B is the most common cause of serious liver disease and many Asian-Americans (including Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians) have a life-long case of it. Watching and treating hepatitis B can lower the risk of liver cancer or failure. Get tested and find out the other ways you can help prevent hepatitis B infection.
Liver (Hepatocellular) Cancer Screening (PDQ) — For Patients — This website offers a brief overview of liver cancer. It describes which tests are used for screening and the risks of undergoing the screening process. It also features links to more resources.
Liver Cancer (Copyright © Mayo Foundation) — This online publication provides an overview of liver cancer. It defines liver cancer and talks about risk factors, diagnosis, and treatment.
Liver Cancer Overview (Copyright © American Cancer Society) — This online publication provides an overview of liver cancer. It defines liver cancer and talks about risk factors. It also explains why early detection and diagnosis are so important for treatment.
Strength as a Survivor: Living After Cancer Treatment (Copyright © Lance Armstrong Foundation) — This brochure was written for Asian-American cancer survivors. It discusses the many physical, practical, and emotional concerns of cancer survivors. The brochure encourages survivors to seek support and lists organizations that can help them manage their concerns.
Connect with other organizations
American Cancer Society
American Liver Foundation
Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness, Research, and Training
Asian Liver Center at Stanford University
Intercultural Cancer Council
National Asian Women's Health Organization
National Cancer Institute
Office of Minority Health, HHS
Content last updated May 18, 2010.
Resources last updated May 18, 2010.
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