People infected with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV), one of the most common blood-borne virus infections, are more prone to developing particular types of head and neck cancer, according to a new study.
Researchers from the Univerity of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have revealed that HCV-infected people are at a higher risk of developing these cancers by around two to five times more than those without the Hepatitis C infection.
"What we are trying to make all understand is that this is an infection that has consequences – and it's an infection we can cure," said Dr. Harrys Torres, lead author and an associate professor of infectious diseases at the university.
Torres further explained that the Hepatitis C infection is easily curable and that over 90 percent of the HCV-related cases can be cured without any trouble simply by taking antiviral drugs, although they are expensive.
Also, it is recommended that people should ensure timely screenings and appropriate treatment for HCV, as this can considerably prevent the condition from developing in the body.
Hepatitis C appallingly affects more than 3.5 million Americans, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sadly, several of them are not even aware that they are infected with the virus.
For the purpose of the study, researchers examined medical records from over 34,500 patients tested for HCV at the cancer center from 2004 to 2014.
The researchers discovered that patients suffering from hepatitis C seemed to exhibit more than double the risk of developing throat and mouth cancers. Additionally, they found that patients with hepatitis C had five times greater risk for cancer in the larynx than in those without the infection.
The researchers believe this discovery could be significantly instrumental in the screening of HCV patients and the treatment for those patients with head and neck cancer.
"We are going to recommend that all patients with head and neck cancer should be screened for hepatitis C, which is not done so far," affirmed Torres.
The study is featured in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
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