When we eat right, exercise and generally feel healthy, it's easy to forget that we are living with a potentially deadly virus. Faced with an almost one in four chance of developing liver cancer or other complications of advanced liver disease however, Ontarians living with chronic hepatitis B cannot afford to be complacent. That is why the Canadian Liver Foundation is urging those with chronic hepatitis B to undergo viral load testing and liver cancer screening every six months.
When we don't have any symptoms and believe that we are making all the right lifestyle decisions, we can develop a false sense of security that our disease isn't progressing. Unfortunately, chronic hepatitis B is one of the most common causes of liver cancer so it's important to stay vigilant. Regular screening can identify liver cancer at a very early stage when it is most treatable.
Earlier this year, the Canadian Liver Foundation released a report that showed that hepatitis B is one of the leading forms of liver disease and that the mortality rates for hepatitis B-related liver cancer are destined to rise by 50% by 2020. Recently released cancer statistics identified liver cancer as one of the fastest rising forms of cancer in Canada.
Ontario has the highest population of people with chronic hepatitis B in all of Canada due in part to the flow of immigrants from countries where hepatitis B is very common. The Canadian Liver Foundation is launching a new awareness campaign that will focus on Ontarians that have already been diagnosed with hepatitis B but are not undergoing treatment or being regularly screened. The campaign will encourage them to talk to their doctors about monitoring and how to best manage their disease for the sake of their long-term health and for their families.
The new awareness campaign will roll-out in doctors' offices first, followed by a mass media launch with radio and print ads, billboards and social media just in time for World Hepatitis Day (July 28).