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Expatriate Insurance News: Researchers find hepatitis C can cause liver cancer

Expatriates may wish to look out for risk factors relating to liver disease in order to avoid making a claim on international healthcare policies.

Investigations at the Mayo Clinic and published in January's edition of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings indicated some of the reasons for the rise in the numbers of this condition.

A research group led by principal investigator W Ray Kim, who is a gastroenterology and hepatology specialist, found the cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), is frequently occurring due to infection with hepatitis C.

Scarring caused by this illness can take more than three decades to turn into HCC, Dr Kim pointed out.

"We're now seeing cancer patients in their 50s and 60s who contracted hepatitis C 30 years ago and didn't even know they were infected," he added.

Hepatitis B had already been linked to this condition, but it had not previously been known that this other strain of the illness was significantly prevalent in HCC development.

Furthermore, fatty liver disease and other problems related to obesity were linked to 11 per cent of liver cancer cases.

Dr Kim expressed his concern that this proportion could rise as the populace increasingly becomes overweight, which might push up the number of deaths from this condition.

Around two decades ago, HCC tended to be the result of diseases such as cirrhosis, which is caused by alcohol consumption.

When detected in its latest stages, it has a five-year survival rate of between ten and 12 per cent in the US.

Other risk factors for this condition include diabetes, environmental factors and genetic predispositions.

It is challenging to treat and many people do not realise they are suffering from the ailment until it reaches advanced stages.

Surgery is often required to cure the condition, which involves removing the diseased part of the organ or replacing the liver through a transplant operation.

Chemotherapy, radiation, targeted drugs and ablative therapies can also assist people with HCC.

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