Shine a Spotlight on Liver Disease for World Cancer Day

Media Release: 3 February 2018

Shine a Spotlight on Liver Disease for World Cancer Day

On Sunday 4 February 2018 – World Cancer Day – Hepatitis ACT  joins with thousands of organisations globally and locally in highlighting the devastating impact cancer can have on individuals, families and communities across the world.

Hepatitis ACT Executive Officer John Didlick said “Hepatitis ACT is committed to the on-going fight against cancer and on World Cancer Day we’re raising awareness of the urgent actions required to address the alarming liver cancer burden.”

Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are preventable yet significant causes of liver cancer. Together they caused up to 640,000 cancer deaths globally each year. The total liver cancer death toll worldwide is second only to lung cancer.

In Australia an estimated 440,000 people are living with hepatitis B and hepatitis C. In Canberra the figure is around 7,000 people of whom an estimated 2,100 people are unaware of their condition.

John Didlick said “In Australia the rate of cancer deaths is decreasing overall, and at the same time liver cancer mortality is rising rapidly”.

  • From 1968 to 2015 Australia’s overall cancer mortality rate decreased from 199 deaths per 100,000 people to 164 deaths per 100,000 people.
  • In dramatic contrast, in the same period, Australia’s population doubled whilst deaths from liver cancer increased almost 16 fold (from 117 deaths in 1968 to 1,820 deaths in 2015).

On World Cancer Day Hepatitis ACT is calling for health care professionals and affected communities to help spread the World Cancer Day message that #WeCanICan take action to help prevent and fight cancer.

“Hepatitis ACT urges people with a family history of liver disease and people who might have been exposed to hepatitis B and hepatitis C to talk to their doctor about getting themselves and their family tested” said Mr Didlick.

He said: “There is a safe and effective vaccine for hepatitis B, so people who are tested and found to be vulnerable to infection can get immunised for life-long protection. People with hepatitis B can be treated with antiviral medicines that dramatically reduce the incidence of liver cancer.”

“People who have been diagnosed with hepatitis C can access new subsidised antiviral treatments that are safer, easier to take than previous treatments, and which cure hepatitis C for 95% of people”, John Didlick said.

Hepatitis ACT is Canberra’s community hepatitis organisation, working to help prevent hepatitis transmission in the community and reduce the impacts for people affected by viral hepatitis. Hepatitis ACT is funded by ACT Health to provide no-cost hepatitis information, support and prevention education. To find out more, call (02) 6230 6344 or visit www.hepatitisACT.com.au