A recent study revealed that the Baby Boomer generation is failing to be tested for a condition that can significantly raise their risk for developing liver cancer. The condition is hepatitis C, and Baby Boomers have a five times higher chance of having the condition than other age groups.
Why Baby Boomers Are at Greater Risk.
Hepatitis C rates among Baby Boomers are higher than in other generations for a couple of reasons:
- Hepatitis C transmission rates were highest in the 1960s through the 1980s.
- The guidelines for handling medical equipment and procedures were different in the past, making it more likely for hepatitis C to be transmitted during a hospital stay or procedure.
- Blood products were not screened as they are today, so receiving blood products may have spread the disease.
- Using intravenous drugs and sharing needles, even if it was only once, can cause a person to get the virus.
The Hepatitis C and Liver Cancer Study.
The study was published in a journal titled Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Using the data they collected, researchers determined that only about 12 percent of adults born between 1946 and 1964, Baby Boomers, have been tested for hepatitis C. They were heartened to see that the 12 percent represents a small increase from previous years, but the testing rate is still quite low.
The problem with people not being tested for hepatitis C is that it may lead to increased liver cancer rates. Unfortunately, the mortality rate for liver cancer has been increasing. More than 40,000 people are diagnosed with liver cancer each year. 29,000 people die from it yearly.
How Hepatitis C Can Turn into Liver Cancer.
Although having hepatitis C does increase a person’s risk for liver cancer, it doesn’t guarantee that they will get cancer. Only about 5 percent of people who have hepatitis C go on to develop liver cancer. Those who have cirrhosis, or scarring, are the most likely to get it.
Hepatitis C can lead to cirrhosis because it damages the liver. As the disease causes the liver to become scarred, the liver tries to make up for the scarring by producing fresh cells. The more cells produced, the greater the chance of them mutating into cancer cells.
If your aging relative has not been tested for hepatitis C, they should schedule a test soon. A senior care provider can drive them to the medical appointment. If they are diagnosed with hepatitis C, there are treatments available. A senior care provider can remind the older adult to take their medications. Because eating well can make a difference for overall health, a senior care provider can support their health by preparing balanced meals.
If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring professional senior care in Hoover, AL, call and talk to the staff at Lipford Home Care (205) 623-5700.