Did you know that, in the US, nearly half of all cases of liver cancer are caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). A study recently conducted by the American Association for Cancer Research reveals a low percentage of baby boomers are being tested for HCV. Baby boomers refers to those born between 1946 and 1955.


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A Recent Study on Hepatitis C Screening


According to results published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, data from 2015 indicates that despite the steady increase of liver cancer diagnosis in the US, less than 13 percent of individuals born between 1945 and 1965 are estimated to have undergone screening for hepatitis C virus (HCV).

“In the United States, approximately one in 30 baby boomers are chronically infected with HCV,” said Susan Vadaparampil, PhD, MPH, senior author, senior member and professor, Health Outcomes and Behavior Program, Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, Florida. “Almost half of all cases of liver cancer in the United States are caused by HCV. Therefore, it is important to identify and treat people who have the virus in order to prevent cancer.”

“Hepatitis C is an interesting virus because people who develop a chronic infection remain asymptomatic for decades and don’t know they’re infected,” explained lead author Monica Kasting, PhD, postdoctoral fellow, Division of Population Science, Moffitt Cancer Center. “Most of the baby boomers who screen positive for HCV infection were infected over 30 years ago, before the virus was identified.”


Findings on Hepatitis C Screening Patterns


Over 70% of those born with Heptatitis C were born between 1946 and 1955. With this in mind, it’s recommended that baby boomers get screened for the virus. However, data from the 2013 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) indicated that only 12 percent of baby boomers had been screened for HCV, Kasting explained.

It was also found that females were screened less often than males in every age cohort. Among baby boomers, HCV screening rates ranged from 11.9 percent in 2013 to 12.8 percent in 2015. Regardless of the federal screening recommendations, less than 20 percent of baby boomers reported that the reason for their screening was due to their age.

“Our most important finding is that the HCV screening rate isn’t increasing in a meaningful way,” said Anna Giuliano, PhD, founding director of the Center for Infection Research in Cancer, Moffitt Cancer Center. “Between 2013 and 2015, HCV screening only increased by 0.9 percent in the baby boomer population. Given rising rates of liver cancer and high HCV infection rates in this population, this is a critically important finding.


What is Hepatitis C?


Hepatitis C is an infectious disease caused by the hepatitis C virus that primarily affects the liver. During the initial infection people often have mild or no symptoms, however a fever, dark urine, abdominal pain, and yellow tinged skin occurs.

Over time, the Hepatitis C infection often leads to liver disease and occasionally cirrhosis. In some cases, those with cirrhosis will develop complications such as liver failure, liver cancer, or dilated blood vessels in the esophagus and stomach.


How To Test Yourself At Home for Hepatitis C


If you feel like you may have contracted Hepatitis C, or have any notable symptoms, it would be advised that you undergo a sexual health test to determine your status. At LetsGetChecked, we offer a range of different at home sexual health tests.


Read: What Is The Difference Between Hepatitis B & C


Written by Hannah Kingston | Approved by Medical Director Dominic Rowley