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Liver Cancer Caused by Preventable Hepatitis, Doctor Says

Liver cancer can be caused by preventable hepatitis, a doctor said Thursday.

A high number of deaths in Cambodia and among Cambodian-Americans are caused by hepatitis and subsequent liver cancer. But the disease is preventable, Dr. Taing Tek Hong, a Cambodian physician living in Florida, said Thursday, as a guest on "Hello VOA."

In Cambodia 12 percent of the population carry hepatitis B, and 4 percent have hepatitis C, he said. They are at risk for liver inflammation, which leads to cirrhosis of the liver, which in turn can cause liver cancer, he said.

People "should make every effort to be treated to eradicate or suppress the viruses to minimize the risks of cancer," he said.

People with hepatitis B or C should not drink alcohol, which can speed up liver damage, "setting the stage for the development of liver cancer," he said, especially in those with hepatitis C.

People over 40 should seek annual health checks, especially those who have cirrhosis of the liver, because liver cancer can be removed surgically if detected at an early stage, he said.

Carriers of hepatitis B, especially those with family members who died from liver cancer, should also be vigilant, he said.

"This is a very crucial point, as most of the time these people are not sick, so-called 'healthy carriers,' [and] will not suspect that they might develop liver cancer, which could happen without having cirrhosis of the liver," he said.

"All Cambodian children should be vaccinated against hepatitis B at birth," Taing Tek Hong said. "Parents should check with the heath official, heath centers, infirmaries, hospitals or midwives for free vaccination, as this should be available."