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Alan Franciscus
Editor-in-Chief
HCV Advocate
HBV Advocate

Monday, November 7, 2011

Patients at Risk for Hepatitis B Are Not Adequately Screened Before Receiving Chemotherapy Leading to the Preventable Reactivation of Hepatitis B Infection

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.

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