Hepatitis C Found to Boost Odds for Certain Head and Neck Cancers

HealthDay News — Hepatitis C may increase the risk for certain types of head and neck cancers, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Harrys Torres, MD, an associate professor of infectious diseases at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues analyzed data from 34,545 patients tested at the medical center.

The researchers found that those with hepatitis C appeared to have more than twice the risk for cancers of the oral cavity and oropharynx (2.40 and 2.04 times, respectively), and a nearly five-fold higher risk for cancers of the larynx (4.96 times), compared to those without hepatitis C. The researchers also found that head and neck cancer patients with hepatitis C were more likely to have human papillomavirus.

“Obviously, a hepatitis C infection could impact how patients respond to their cancer therapy. We also realized that many of our hepatitis patients were excluded from clinical trials,” Torres said in an MD Anderson news release. “Now that many with hepatitis C can be cured, it is important that we first address and potentially cure the virus, so that they can have access to necessary cancer therapy.”

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1. Mahale P, Sturgis EM, Tweardy DJ, et al.  Association Between Hepatitis C Virus and Head and Neck Cancers. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2016;108(8): djw035doi: 10.1093/jnci/djw035.