Hepatitis causes inflammation of the liver and is most often caused by a virus, of which there are 6 types: hepatitis A (HAV), hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV), hepatitis D (HDV), hepatitis E (HEV), hepatitis G (HGV). All of these viruses affect the liver and have similar symptoms, however they are spread in different ways, have different treatments and have different long term affects. HAV, HBV and HCV are the most common types of hepatitis virus, with HBV and HCV infection being the biggest risk factors for liver cancer. In fact, hepatitis B and hepatitis C cause approximately 71% of liver cancer cases worldwide, with people infected with both HBV and HCV most at risk.
Hepatitis B is the most common liver infection in the world. HBV is spread through contact with infected blood, semen or other bodily fluids. During the first 6 months after infection it is considered to be 'acute' hepatitis. If hepatitis B virus (HBV) tests continue to be positive for more than 6 months after infection the affected person is considered to have 'chronic' hepatitis B. Up to 1 in 4 people with chronic hepatitis B will die from either liver cancer or liver failure due to cirrhosis unless they receive appropriate care and treatment. Chronic hepatitis B causes prolonged liver damage which may result in cirrhosis (liver scarring) and lead to liver cancer.
Worldwide, an estimated 257 million people have been infected with HBV, with approximately 887,000 deaths resulting from this viral infection in 2015. Almost 240,000 people have chronic hepatitis B in Australia, however there is thought to also be a large number of people in Australia living with hepatitis B that have not yet been diagnosed.
Cancer in Australia 2017