Hepatitis C can cause liver cancer. In fact, approximately 50 percent of all liver cancer cases in the U.S. are related to the hepatitis C virus. Most people who do contract the virus do not know they have it and do not receive available curative treatment that can help prevent liver cancer.
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that can lead to chronic liver infection. The most common way hepatitis C is transmitted is by sharing needles or other drug-injection equipment. African-Americans, Hispanics and baby boomers (those born between 1945 and 1965) are at higher risk for hepatitis C infection.
Hepatitis C becomes a chronic infection for 75 to 85 percent of infected people, but it can also be a short-term illness for some. Chronic hepatitis C can cause lifelong health problems. Most people with short-term hepatitis C do not experience symptoms, or have mild symptoms including fever, fatigue, dark urine and abdominal pain. Most people with chronic hepatitis C do not have symptoms, but many have chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis (liver scarring) or liver cancer.
While no vaccine exists to prevent hepatitis C, you can reduce your chance of infection by avoiding activities that spread the virus, especially using injectable drugs. There are blood tests to screen for hepatitis C. Talk to your health care professional about getting screened if you are at risk. If you have hepatitis C, there are multiple treatment options available that can cure the virus and reduce your chance of getting liver cancer.
If your health insurance does not cover the cost of the hepatitis C treatment, there are assistance programs available. Some hepatitis C treatment manufacturers offer patient assistance programs to cover treatment costs for adults 18 years or older.
You may be at increased risk for hepatitis C infection if you: