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).
The risk of liver cancer
is greater for people who have
chronic HBV or HCV infection than for the general population.1
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
- 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
- You are at greatly increased risk of liver cancer if you
have alcohol-related cirrhosis in addition to hepatitis.
antiviral therapy to treat chronic HCV infection may lower your risk for
developing liver cancer.2
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.
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
Decision Points focus on key medical care decisions that are important to many health problems.
- Hepatitis B: Should I Take Antiviral Medicine for Chronic Hepatitis B?
Combination Antiviral Therapy for Hepatitis C
Hepatitis B: Should I Take Antiviral Medicine for Chronic Hepatitis B?
Malet PF (2008). Chronic hepatitis. In DC
Dale, DD Federman, eds., ACP Medicine, section 4, chap.
8. Hamilton, ON: BC Decker.
Dienstag JL (2010). Chronic viral hepatitis. In GL
Mandell et al., eds., Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 7th ed., vol. 1, pp.
1593–1670. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.