New data presented today at the International Liver CongressTM 2010 found a link between chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) and progression to cancers other than hepatocellular carcinoma. The study found that a higher risk of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) and Cholangiocarcinoma was associated with HBV infection in the presence of higher levels of viral replication.
The data could indicate a causal effect for HBV infection and if proven to be the case in further trials, the benefits of a vaccine against and treatment of HBV will extend beyond reduction in hepatocellular carcinoma.
Worldwide, more than 350 million people are persistently infected with HBV and chronic HBV causes about 1 million deaths each year.
NHL is any of a large group of cancers of the lymphoid system (white blood cells) that can occur at any age. About 80% of all lymphomas diagnosed are NHL and NHL account for 4% of all cancers in the UK.
Cholangiocarcinoma is a cancer of the bile duct cells with no medical treatment except surgery. It is relatively rare with an annual incidence of 1 cases per 100,000 in the Western world, although rates are increasing.
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