Hepatitis B Linked to Bile Duct Cancer

A study that was recently published in the International Journal of Cancer suggests that there is an association between hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and an increased risk of bile duct cancer outside the liver. The extrahepatic bile duct collects bile from the liver and is joined with another duct from the gallbladder. Because of the unusual nature of this cancer, it is very difficult to treat.

The population-based study, conducted in Shanghai by Dr. Ann W. Hsing of Maryland’s National Cancer Institute and other colleagues, examined the prevalence of HBV and hepatitis C infection among over 1,000 patients, some of whom have biliary tract infections such as cancer and biliary stones.

According to the study, HBV infection was detected in 7.3 percent, with patients with extrahepatic bile duct cancer having more likely to test positive of HBV. Meanwhile, there was no significant association between HBV and gallbladder cancer, bile duct stones, and gallbladder stones.

HBV induces liver cancer primarily through chronic inflammation and tissue destruction with regeneration of liver cells. Hsing’s team suggests that a similar process may be involved in bile duct cancers.

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