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Ask your GP for a hepatitis B test: it could save your life

Thursday 18 June, 2015

New research by Cancer Council Victoria shows that many people in the Vietnamese community are unaware they are at increased risk of hepatitis B-related liver cancer .

Areas of concern were revealed in focus groups research carried out in partnership with Victoria's Vietnamese community.

False beliefs were common in the groups. Many people did not know that:

  • Hepatitis B is not associated with diet and hygiene;
  • The risk of hepatitis B in Australia is not lower when living in Australia; and
  • Your GP may not necessarily inform you of and carry out any necessary tests.

Chris Enright, from the Prevention Division at Cancer Council Victoria said these findings need to be seriously addressed because Vietnamese people might be living with hepatitis B and not know it.

"Vietnamese born Australians are 6-12 times more likely to develop hepatitis B-related liver cancer than people born in Australia," Ms Enright said.

Ms Enright said most at-risk were those born overseas in countries where hepatitis B infection is prevalent, such as the Asia Pacific region, and their children, as the major cause of transmission is from mother to infant during birth.

"It is very possible to have hepatitis B and feel well.

"Knowing if you have hepatitis B is essential so you can manage it and keep well. Asking your GP for your hepatitis B status could save your life," she said.

Chronic hepatitis B is a major cause of liver cancer. Treatment and management of hepatitis B can effectively prevent the development of liver cancer.

"Almost half the people living with chronic hepatitis B aren't aware of it and a lack of symptoms often means liver cancer is diagnosed late," Ms Enright said.

Hepatitis and liver cancer

  • Deaths from liver cancer set to double over next decade
  • Only 10% of liver cancer cases linked to heavy alcohol use
  • Liver cancer is the fastest-growing cancer killer in Australia and one of the most deadly with most people only surviving less than a year after diagnosis  


Download this media release in Vietnamese