A risk factor is any factor that is associated with an increased chance of developing a particular health condition, such as liver cancer. There are different types of risk factors, some of which can be modified and some that cannot.
It should be noted that having one or more risk factors does not mean a person will develop liver cancer. Many people have at least one risk factor but will never develop liver cancer, while others with liver cancer may have had no known risk factors. Even if a person with liver cancer has a risk factor, it is usually hard to know how much that risk factor contributed to the development of their disease.
Although the causes of liver cancer are not fully understood, there are a number of factors associated with the risk of developing the disease. These factors include:
- chronic hepatitis B infection
- chronic hepatitis C infection
- a family history of both hepatitis B and liver cancer
- cirrhosis of the liver
If you have any of these risk factors or are concerned about your risk for liver cancer, please see your doctor.
Prevention of liver cancer
The hepatitis B vaccine offers very effective protection against infection with the disease. Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended as part of routine childhood immunisation. Hepatitis B vaccine is free on the National Immunisation Program Schedule. To receive hepatitis B immunisation, visit your local doctor or immunisation provider. It is important to note that the vaccine is provided at no cost, although a consultation fee may apply. (Sourced from Australian Government Department of Health).
National Cancer Institute. Liver cancer treatment (PDQ): patient version
National Cancer Institute. Liver cancer treatment (PDQ): health professional version
Ryder SD. Guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in adults. Gut 2003;52(Suppl 3):1–8.