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Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the five leading causes of cancer death in human. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is the most common etiologic agent of HCC in the world. Prevention is the best way to control cancer. There are three levels of liver cancer prevention, i.e., primary prevention by HBV vaccination targeting the general population starting from birth dose, secondary prevention by antiviral agent for high-risk subjects with chronic HBV infection, and tertiary prevention by antiviral agent to prevent recurrence for patients who have been successfully treated for liver cancer. Primary prevention by hepatitis B vaccination is most cost effective, the cancer preventive efficacy support it as the first successful example of cancer preventive vaccine in human. Addition of hepatitis B immunoglobulin immediately after birth and antiviral agent during the third trimester of pregnancy to block mother-to-infant transmission of HBV are existing or possible emerging strategies to enhance the prevention efficacy of HBV infection and its related liver cancer. Secondary prevention with current antiviral agents may reduce the risk or delay the onset of HCC development, but could not eradicate HBV infection and HCC. Better antiviral therapeutic agents are needed for better secondary prevention.


Mei-Hwei Chang. Prevention of Hepatitis B Virus Infection and Liver Cancer. Recent results in cancer research. Fortschritte der Krebsforschung. Progres dans les recherches sur le cancer. 2021;217:71-90

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PMID: 33200362

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