In a first-of-its-kind finding, researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center have discovered that exposure to the hepatitis B virus (HBV) may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.
The study also suggests that patients with this lethal form of cancer treated with chemotherapy may face danger of reactivation of their HBV.
Pancreatic cancer is diagnosed in 37,000 people in the United States each year, and more than 34,000 people die of the disease annually, according to the American Cancer Society.
It is often diagnosed in the late stages and is especially perplexing because few risk factors are known.
“If this study is validated, it will give us more information about the risk factors of pancreatic cancer and possibly even help prevent it in some cases,” said lead author Manal Hassan, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in M. D. Anderson’s Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology.
HBV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) are major global health problems, affecting about 2 percent of the population worldwide.
In the United States 1.25 million people have chronic HBV, while 3.2 million have chronic HCV. These systemic viruses can harm the body in a variety of ways, including traveling through the bloodstream and damaging tissues throughout the body.
Read more at EurekAlert