Reduce the risk of liver cancer – BusinessWorld Online
Liver cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the country, with 10,594 new cases and 9,953 deaths reported in 2020. Its incidence in men is about two and a half times that of women, according to the Ministry of Health ( DoH).
The American Cancer Society has stated that common symptoms of liver cancer are unintentional weight loss; loss of appetite; feeling of fullness after a small meal; nausea or vomiting; an enlarged liver, felt as fullness under the ribs on the right side; and an enlarged spleen, felt as fullness under the ribs on the left side.
Symptoms include pain in the abdomen or near the right shoulder blade; swelling or accumulation of fluid in the abdomen; itching; yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice); fever; enlarged veins on the stomach that can be seen through the skin; and bruising or abnormal bleeding. It is important to see your doctor if you experience these symptoms.
The most common risk factor for liver cancer is chronic (long-term) hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. “People infected with both viruses have a high risk of developing chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver cancer. The risk is even higher if they are heavy drinkers who consume at least six glasses of alcohol per day,” said the American Cancer Society.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that one in 10 people in the country suffer from chronic hepatitis B and six out of 1,000 suffer from chronic hepatitis C.
The DoH noted that liver cancer is much more common in countries where HBV carriers are prevalent, such as the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries, compared to most developed countries where HBV carriers are prevalent. Hepatitis B is less common.
HBV and HCV can be passed from person to person through sharing contaminated needles (such as when using drugs), unprotected sex, and childbirth.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that all children, as well as adults at risk, receive the HBV vaccine to reduce the risk of hepatitis and liver cancer. Although there is no vaccine for hepatitis C, the best way to prevent it is to avoid behaviors that can spread the disease.
The CDC has recommended getting tested for hepatitis C because treatments can cure most people with hepatitis C in 8 to 12 weeks. You can also lower your risk of liver cancer by not smoking, limiting your alcohol intake, and maintaining a healthy weight.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has made it more difficult to care for Filipino patients with liver diseases, said Dr. Jenny Agcaoili-Conde, public relations officer of the Hepatological Society of the Philippines (HSP). “At the start of the pandemic, many patients with liver disease had to have their surgery canceled or postponed because we knew little about COVID-19 at the time.”
While telemedicine has allowed physicians to provide continuity of care, patients with liver disease require strict follow-up through diagnostic tests. “To undergo these tests, they must leave the house and risk potential exposure to the coronavirus. This is a difficult time for patients and doctors,” said Dr Agcaoili-Conde. Hopefully, with the gradual decline of COVID-19 cases in the country, the continuity of care for patients with liver diseases will improve.
She also noted the low hepatitis B vaccination coverage in the country. “The hepatitis B vaccine has been part of the government’s immunization program since 1992. However, only 45% of babies born in 2014 received the first dose of the vaccine. Completion of the 3-dose hepatitis B vaccination regimen fell to just 77% in 2012. Additionally, the pandemic has impacted supply chains, further hampering the availability of medicines and vaccines .
The WHO has estimated that only 50% of newborns in the country receive the birth dose of hepatitis B within 24 hours of birth.
Under the auspices of its parent organization, the Philippine Society of Gastroenterology (PSG), HSP works with the DoH and other partner stakeholders to promote liver health awareness and early detection of liver disease, especially liver disease. liver cancer and viral hepatitis, among the general public. . He also created the Philippine Liver Education online platform which aims to serve as a trusted virtual learning resource for liver disease management for Filipino physicians with a special interest in hepatology.
Teodoro B. Padilla is the Executive Director of the Pharmaceutical and Health Association of the Philippines (PHAP), which represents the biopharmaceutical drug and vaccine industry in the country. Its members are at the forefront of research and development efforts for COVID-19 and other diseases that affect Filipinos.