Taking steps to keep a healthy liver

To help raise awareness and promote early detection and prevention of liver cancer, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services urges that Michigan residents take steps to lower their risk of liver cancer.

This is Liver Cancer Awareness Month. In Michigan, liver cancer is the sixth-leading cause of cancer deaths, with a 46% increase in liver cancer mortality between 2008 and 2017.

New cases of liver cancer continue to rise in Michigan. Between 2007 and 2016, the state saw an increase of 50% in liver cancer. Moreover, liver cancer has the third-lowest survival rate of any type of cancer, with a five-year survival rate of 18 percent.

In the United States, chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis C infection are leading causes of liver cancer, making up 65 percent of factors contributing to liver cancer incidence. However, most people with hepatitis B or hepatitis C do not know they are infected because these infections rarely cause symptoms.

“Michiganders can reduce their risk of liver cancer through early detection and disease prevention,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health for MDHHS.

To identify current infections, Michiganders should get tested for hepatitis B and hepatitis C by contacting their health care provider or local health department. For individuals with no prior exposure to the hepatitis B virus, infection can be prevented with a vaccine.

For individuals experiencing active infection with hepatitis B and/or hepatitis C, treatments are available that can reduce their risk of liver cancer. Hepatitis C treatments can cure more than 95 percent of persons infected with hepatitis C.

During Live Cancer Awareness Month, Michiganders are urged to:

— Identify your risk for hepatitis B and/or hepatitis C by taking the CDC’s 5-minute online Hepatitis Risk Assessment at CDC.gov/Hepatitis/RiskAssessment.

— Get tested if at risk. Talk to health care provider or local health department about getting a simple blood test for hepatitis B and/or hepatitis C.

— Protect yourself and others from hepatitis B by getting vaccinated.

— If infected with hepatitis B and/or hepatitis C, talk to health care providers about treatment options. There are treatments for hepatitis B that can lower the risk of liver cancer and new and effective hepatitis C treatments with minimal side effects.

— Follow a healthy lifestyle, such as regular exercise and consuming a healthy diet with limited amounts of alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to cirrhosis of the liver.

For more information on viral hepatitis and testing and vaccination recommendations, go to cdc.gov/Hepatitis or Michigan.gov/Hepatitis. For more information on liver cancer, go to Cdc.gov/Cancer/Liver.