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Childhood cancer survivors who received blood or blood products before screening tests were available for hepatitis B and C may be at risk for developing hepatitis, an infection of the liver.
In the United States, routine screening of blood donors for the hepatitis B virus began in 1971. For hepatitis C, the most accurate screening began in 1992. Screening in other countries may be different.
Survivors may be at risk for hepatitis B (if transfused before 1972) and C (if transfused before 1993) if they received any of the blood products listed before routine blood donor screening began:
Not all patients with hepatitis have symptoms when first infected. However, symptoms of hepatitis may include:
In rare cases, liver failure can result.
Sometimes hepatitis resolves without therapy and causes no further health problems.
People infected with hepatitis B or C as children may develop a chronic infection. Most people with chronic hepatitis do not have symptoms. But chronic infection can cause scarring (cirrhosis) of the liver and other liver problems. Signs of liver damage include:
Ask your health care provider about your transfusion history and risk of developing hepatitis.
Share a copy of your Survivorship Care Plan, which includes details about your cancer treatment, including blood transfusions, and information about health problems that may occur because of your treatment.
A blood test can check for viral hepatitis. A positive antibody test for hepatitis B or C means the person has been exposed to the virus. Additional testing may then be performed to check for chronic infection.
Additional steps to keep the liver healthy include:
Survivors with chronic hepatitis B or C should take precautions to avoid spreading the disease.
Together does not endorse any branded product mentioned in this article.
Reviewed: December 2019