Hepatitis B & liver cancer

If you have chronic hepatitis B, you're at risk of liver damage and liver cancer

In Australia, there are over 218,000 people living with chronic hepatitis B. 

  • People who've had hepatitis B for more than 6 months have ‘chronic hepatitis'.
  • Up to 1 in 4 people with chronic hepatitis B will die from liver cancer.
  • Most people don't have any symptoms, yet liver damage can still happen.

Quick facts

  • Prevention is the best protection – vaccination can prevent hepatitis B infection and related liver cancers.
  • People who were infected at birth or during childhood are more likely to have chronic hepatitis B, and develop liver damage and/or liver cancer. 
  • People with chronic hepatitis B can lead healthy lives. With regular tests every six months and treatment when needed, liver cancer can be prevented in the long run.

Download our Portable Document File (PDF)Hepatitis B and Liver Cancer fact sheet

Who is at risk of chronic hepatitis B?

Some people are at higher risk of chronic hepatitis B. Tests are recommended for:

  • Family members, people who live with or, sexual partners of someone who has chronic hepatitis B
  • Pregnant women
  • People who inject drugs
  • Men who have sex with men
  • People who are in or have been in custodial settings
  • People undergoing dialysis
  • People with hepatitis C or HIV, or both
  • Sex workers
  • People who are about to start chemotherapy or immunotherapy 
  • People who already have (or have a family history) of liver disease and/or liver cancer.

How do I know if I have hepatitis B?

Ask your doctor for a hepatitis B test

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If you don't have hepatitis B, get vaccinated to prevent hepatitis B infection and related liver cancer

If you have chronic hepatitis B, get six-monthly check-ups and treatment when needed to cut liver cancer risk

 

If you're not sure if you've been tested or vaccinated in the past, we recommend you ask your doctor for a simple blood test. Your doctor can also give you information about free hepatitis B vaccinations.

A simple blood test can tell you:

  • if you need a vaccine to protect you
  • if you've been vaccinated and are protected
  • or if you have chronic hepatitis B and need further care.

Australia has had a free infant vaccination program since 2000. For adults, the hepatitis B vaccine is three doses given over six months and can protect you for life. But vaccination won't protect you if you already have chronic hepatitis B. This is why testing before vaccination is especially useful for people in a higher risk group.

Where can I get more information? 

  • Talk to your doctor. 
  • See our liver cancer section (only in English) or talk to a nurse in your preferred language. For an interpreter call 13 14 50 first, and ask the interpreter to contact the Cancer Council Victoria on 13 11 20.
  • View our hepatitis B and liver cancer information in:
    Arabic
    Chinese – Simplified  
    Chinese – Traditional
    Somali
    Vietnamese
  • For information and support on hepatitis B visit www.hepvic.org.au or call the Hepatitis Infoline on 1800 703 003. For an interpreter call 13 14 50 first.

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2016-07-22
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