Cancer Awareness Month study shows alarming results! – ELPA – European Liver Patients Association


2013-10-18 09:24


– Approximately nine out of ten(91%) people surveyed do not know anything or only very little about viral hepatitis and only around one in six (15%)name hepatitis as the main cause of liver cancer

Beerse, Belgium, 16 October, 2013 –A new survey (available to download below) to mark Liver Cancer Awareness Month (October) has shown a lack of awareness among the general public about viral hepatitis and its link to liver cancer, the sixth most common cancer and the third most common cause of death from cancer worldwide.1 Differences in levels of awareness were also seen between the countries surveyed.

The survey,commissioned by Janssen Pharmaceutica NV (Janssen), with the support of the World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA), the European Liver Patients Association (ELPA) and the International Liver Cancer Association (ILCA), was conducted in Russia, Spain,Turkey and the United Kingdom (UK) involving more than 5,000 members of the general public to provide a snapshot of public awareness across the WHO EuropeanRegion.[*]

Knowledge of Viral Hepatitis is Limited

Around nine out of ten (91%) survey respondents know nothing, or only a little, about viral hepatitis. Specifically, in Spain and Turkey, about four out of ten (42%)respondents know absolutely nothing about viral hepatitis, compared to about six out of ten in the UK (61%). More positively, in Russia, the number of respondents who know absolutely nothing decreases to only 13%.

“Viral hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by a virus which can lead to short-term, or acute infection.2Hepatitis B, C and D infection can however also cause chronic hepatitis, long-term infectionthat can leadto life-threatening complicationssuch as cirrhosis (liver scarring),liver failure, and liver cancer,”2said Professor Peter R. Galle, Co-President of the International Liver Cancer Association. “Currently, up to 90% of peoplewith hepatitis B and hepatitis C infection areunawarethat they have the condition.”3

Limited Viral Hepatitis Knowledge Means Main Cause of Liver Cancer Unknown

Despite the high prevalence and mortality of liver cancer,only 15% of survey respondents areawarethat the main cause of liver cancer in most countries isviral hepatitis.3The results vary by country though with significantly more respondents in Russia (21%) and Turkey (20%) aware of its cause compared to the UK (7%) and Spain (10%).Overall, some 535,000 cases of liver cancer are attributable tohepatitis B and hepatitis C infection,nearly 90% of the total globally.4

Lack of Awareness About Viral Hepatitis Transmission Routes May Be Putting People At Risk

In all countries,less than half of respondents are aware that the hepatitis B virus is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person5 and the hepatitis C virus can only be transmitted through contact with the blood of an infected person.6The survey also demonstrated that 50% of people incorrectly believe hepatitis C can be transmitted through unprotected intercourse.

Knowledge across the four countries surveyed is relatively similar with most people identifying that transmission of hepatitis B and hepatitis C can occur through the transfusion of blood (76%) and sharing of instruments/needles (64%).

Knowledge of Prevention and Treatment is Lacking Yet Critical

Public awareness about theavailability of preventative measures and treatments for viral hepatitis has historically been limited.7This is further supported by the results of this survey with more than half (56%) of respondentsbeing incorrect or uncertain about symptoms, preventionand treatment of hepatitis B and hepatitis C. The survey also found that only around half of respondents are aware there is a vaccine for hepatitis B (49%), and that hepatitis B and C can be treated (45% and 50%, respectively).5,6

In addition, 40%of respondents are unaware that hepatitis C is a potentially curable disease.8This figure varies greatly between countries with knowledgethat hepatitis C can be cured being highest in Turkey (76%) and lowest in the UK (48%). Treatments are also available for hepatitis B, which slow the replication of the virus and occasionally result in its clearance.5

“The lack of public awareness of viral hepatitis is of grave concern. To drive improvements in testing and diagnosis rates, improved public awareness about the virus is necessary so that people can assess whether they have been at risk of infection, and come forward for testing,”said Achim Kautz, Policy Director, European Liver Patients Association.

“Only when people unknowingly living withviral hepatitis are informed anddiagnosed and receive timely treatment is there a real chance for us to prevent the unnecessary development of liver cancer and reduce mortality,”said Charles Gore, President of the World Hepatitis Alliance. “This survey clearly reinforces the need for national governments across Europe to develop comprehensive strategies to address this.”

MEDIA CONTACT:                           

Inés Hammer

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Advice to patients, caregivers and family members

If you think you,or someone you care for,may have been at risk of contracting viral hepatitis it is important that you discuss this with a healthcare professional.

About the Market Research

These results were generated from an online survey conducted by Edelman Berland (partnering with ICM) between 20 September 2013 and 03October 2013. The survey was completed by over 5,000 members of the general public, aged 18 years and over, located across four countries: Russia, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom. The objective of this research was to better understand public awareness and perceptions of hepatitis B and hepatitis C and their link to liver cancer. The full survey results can be accessed via the following link:

About Liver Cancer Awareness Month

Liver Cancer Awareness Month (LCAM) is an annual international health campaign organised by liver cancer charities, patient groups and other related organisations every October.  It is intended to increase awareness of the diseases contributing to liver cancer, the relevant preventative interventions and to raise funds for further research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure.

About Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease, which is spread through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person and is usually symptomless at the outset.5It is a major global health problem.5 It can cause chronic infection and puts people at high risk of death from cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.5An estimated 350 million people are infected with hepatitis B worldwide9 and approximately 786,000 people die annually of this disease.10 An estimated 20-30% of patients with hepatitis B develop liver cirrhosis and 25% of people will develop liver cancer.11

About Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease which is spread through blood-to-blood contact and is usually symptomless at the outset.6With an estimated 150 million people infected worldwide,6and three to four million people newly infected each year, hepatitisC puts a significant burden on patients and society.12Estimations indicate that hepatitisC kills more than 499,000 people worldwide per year, accounting for approximately 1% of deaths worldwide.10It is the world’s primary cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer,13with an estimated 20-30% of patients developing liver cirrhosis14 and a further7% developing liver cancer.11The estimated annual cost of hepatitis C (medical and work loss) is more than $1 billion in the US alone.15

About Janssen

At Janssen, we are dedicated to addressing and solving some of the most important unmet medical needs of our time in infectious diseases and vaccines, oncology, immunology, neuroscience, and cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Driven by our commitment to patients, we develop innovative products, services and healthcare solutions to help people throughout the world.  Please visit http://www.janssen-emea.comfor more information.

About The European Liver Patients Association

The European Liver Patients Association (ELPA) emerged from a desire amongst European liver patient groups to share their experiences of the often very different approaches adopted in different countries. In June 2004, 13 patient groups from 10 European and Mediterranean Basin countries met to create the association. ELPA was formally launched in Paris on April 14th 2005 during the annual conference of the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) and now has 30 members from 24 countries.ELPA’s aim is to promote the interests of people with liver disease and in particular: to highlight the size of the problem; to promote awareness and prevention; to address the low profile of liver disease as compared to other areas of medicine such as heart disease; to share experience of successful initiatives; to work with professional bodies such as EASL and with the EU to ensure that treatment and care are harmonised across Europe to the highest standards. Please visit for more information.

About The International Liver Cancer Association

The International Liver Cancer Association (ILCA) is the only international organisation devoted exclusively to liver cancer research for experts from all related disciplines.The ILCA aspires towards advancing research in the pathogenesis, prevention, and treatment of liver cancer and will do so by promoting novel pathogenic, diagnostic and therapeutic interventions for liver cancer by taking a transversal approach to research and bringing together scientists, physicians and allied professionals from all interrelated fields. Please visit for more information.

About The World Hepatitis Alliance

The World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA) is a not-for-profit international umbrella Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO). Its membership is composed of over 170 organisations who work in the field of viral hepatitis, representing every region of the world. WHA is patient-led and patient-driven, and due to its dedication to this approach voting membership of the Alliance is limited to patient groups. In this way, WHA is the global voice for the 500 million people worldwide living with viral hepatitis.Through better awareness, prevention, care, support and access to treatment, WHA’s ultimate goal is to work with governments to eradicate these diseases from the planet. WHA provides global leadership and supports action that will halt the viral hepatitis death toll and improve lives.Please visit http://www.worldhepatitisalliance.orgfor more information.



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[*]The WHO European Region comprises 53 countries, covering a vast geographical region from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans. Please visit more information.