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Patients at Risk for Hepatitis B Are Not Adequately Screened Before Receiving Chemotherapy Leading to the Preventable Reactivation of Hepatitis B Infection
Date:11/7/2011

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- By examining 70,737 patients through institutional databases and medical charts, researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center determined that only 20 percent of patients with newly diagnosed cancer who had hepatitis B virus (HBV) risk factors were screened for HBV infection before starting chemotherapy. This amount of screening is inadequate, according to Jessica P. Hwang, MD, MPH, the lead author of the study, "I hope my study results will increase awareness among medical providers so that they will actively screen for hepatitis B viral infection to prevent poor outcomes for these patients after their chemotherapy."

For patients with HBV infection, the danger is that their hepatitis B virus can be reactivated by chemotherapy. While those with reactivated HBV infection can be treated with antiviral therapy, initiating antiviral prophylaxis prior to chemotherapy can prevent reactivation. Using well-known HBV risk factors, a greater percentage of cancer patients with HBV infection can be accurately identified and successfully treated before starting chemotherapy.

Unfortunately, reactivation is common and may have occurred in nearly 25 percent of all patients with HBV who were newly diagnosed with cancer and received chemotherapy. This reactivation of HBV infection is preventable with screening and antiviral prophylaxis prior to the onset of chemotherapy. The study's conclusion clearly states that screening and prophylactic treatment of HBV infection prior to chemotherapy could reduce mortality in cancer patients with HBV.

"Reactivation is preventable and depends only on accurate screening and prophylaxis. For medical providers to practice effective screening, data-driven policies and strong collaboration among oncology and hepatology communities are essential," concludes Dr. Wang.

Abstract title:

Reactivation of Hepatitis B Infection Among Patients with Canc
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SOURCE American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD)
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