An Awareness Month You May Not Know About

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October is the month of orange – as in pumpkin spice and traffic cones. It’s also the month of pink – for breast cancer awareness.

October also represents a third, less talked about cause and awareness color, emerald green for liver cancer. But the conversation shouldn’t be about color, it should be about statistics, because this type of cancer is only increasing.

According to Dr. Eden Wells, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ (MDHHS) Chief medical executive,“Liver cancer is the sixth leading cause of cancer deaths in Michigan.”

Between 2004 and 2015, liver cancer incidence increased 46 percent in Michigan. That is a staggering number. As part of Liver Cancer Awareness Month, MDHHS is urging Michigan residents to educate themselves about the leading causes of liver cancer, and ways to prevent it or reduce their risk of being diagnosed with it.

MDHHS states that chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C are leading causes of liver cancer, making up 65 percent of factors contributing to liver cancer incidence in the United States.

The hepatitis B virus (HBV) is transmitted from person to person through contaminated blood or body fluids. HBV can spread from infected mothers to their infants at birth, through unprotected sex or through contact with blood or body fluids of a person who has the virus.

The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a blood-borne pathogen and is transmitted from person to person through the contaminated blood of an infected individual.

More recently, an increase in the rate of new hepatitis C infections that are related to young adults and injection drug use, with the primary risk factor for transmission being sharing needles, syringes or other drug paraphernalia.

MDHHS advises that during Liver Cancer Awareness Month, you take these steps to lower your risk of liver cancer:

  • Identify your risk for hepatitis B or hepatitis C. Take the CDC’s 5-minute online Hepatitis Risk Assessment tool: Cdc.gov/hepatitis/riskassessment.
  • If you believe you are at risk, ask your healthcare provider for additional testing.
  • Protect yourself and your loved ones by asking your healthcare provider for the hepatitis B vaccine.
  • Talk to your doctor about treatment options if you are currently infected with hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption.

For more information on liver cancer and viral hepatitis, visit here.


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