Researchers from the WHO Collaborating Centre for Viral Hepatitis at the Doherty Institute will lead a four year project to prevent liver cancer in people living with hepatitis.
Royal Melbourne Hospital Associate Professor Ben Cowie, Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Viral Hepatitis at the Doherty Institute and his team have been awarded a $1.6 million Victorian Government grant to prevent liver cancer in people with hepatitis.
The four year project, funded by the Department of Health and Human Services Victorian Cancer Agency, will help people living with hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV) increase their understanding of how to reduce their risk of liver cancer.
“The majority of liver cancer deaths relating to chronic B and C are preventable in Australia,” Associate Professor Cowie said.
“There are 240,000 Australians living with chronic hepatitis B and nearly 200,000 living with chronic hepatitis C. This funding will support a truly innovative program of work, supporting our patients to better understand how they can reduce their risk of liver cancer. ”
While there are highly effective antiviral treatments available for HBV which profoundly reduce the risk of developing liver cancer, and revolutionary new treatments which cure HCV, not all Victorians are able to access such treatment, particularly those living in regional areas, those born overseas and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The project aims to improve engagement of people living with viral hepatitis in primary care through direct support for clinicians and patients.
“We will aim to improve the level of testing and diagnosis of people living with viral hepatitis, increasing the follow-up and engagement in ongoing monitoring after diagnosis; and support GPs to provide treatment and liver cancer surveillance as appropriate,” Associate Professor Cowie said.
“These changes will greatly decrease the risk of liver cancer in people with hepatitis B and C and have the potential to save many lives which would otherwise have been cut short by this significant public health concern.”
The grant, A partnership approach to preventing liver cancer: tackling viral hepatitis in primary care, is a collaboration involving Melbourne Health, Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, The Kirby Institute (University of New South Wales), University of Notre Dame, Hepatitis Victoria, Cancer Council Victoria, Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network, Gippsland Primary Health Network, South Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network and Outcome Health.