Sunday, March 2, 2014

HCV Weekend Reading: Hepatitis C and non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Hello everyone, welcome to another edition of "Weekend Reading." Sit back, grab a cup of coffee and let's talk about what's new, and what you didn't catch last week.

We begin with a study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Preventive Medicine in New Orleans last week.

The results were alarming, according to the study not only do people with HCV have a 30 times higher risk of death from liver cancer, compared to those without the virus, but people infected with hepatitis C also have a higher mortality rate from non-Hodgkin lymphoma, pancreatic, rectal, and oral or pharyngeal cancers.

Researchers reported; "persons with chronic hepatitis C died an average of 12 years earlier than the general population from 12 different cancers - i.e., bladder, breast, colon, esophagus, leukemia, liver, lung, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, oral, pancreatic, prostate, and rectal cancers."

Hepatitis C Infection Tied to Higher Risk of Death From Non-liver Cancers
Study author Dr. Robert D. Allison from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, said it is important to point out that "chronic hepatitis C infection is a known risk factor for developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). But to our knowledge, this is the first U.S. study to investigate and show that persons with chronic hepatitis C have a higher risk of death from NHL."
He said there are multiple possible explanations for the other cancers. "The HCV group had a higher rate of smoking and alcohol use than the general population. So, it's hard to say for sure if the increased risk of death from the three smoking-related cancers (oral, pancreatic, and rectal) was related to HCV infection. However, NHL is not associated with either smoking or alcohol use."
 Read more @ Medscape

This study serves as a reminder that chronic hepatitis C not only affects the liver, but is also associated with a risk for other cancers, syndromes and conditions outside the liver, as well as cirrhosis and liver cancer. The good news is treating HCV remains the cornerstone of preventing liver damage, serious complications and long-term health problems caused by the virus.

New In March - To Treat Or Not To Treat

Deciding to treat hepatitis C is an enormous decision to make, an impossible decision without a basic understanding of the disease, and its treatments. Over the years, I have aspired to help bring easy to understand information to people newly diagnosed with hepatitis C.  Recently, I put together a collection of slides for people considering treatment. The project is close to my heart, and I hope to achieve what I set out to do, which is to offer a point of reference for anyone faced with this difficult and complicated decision.  The slides begin with my own diagnosis, and offer a glance at other conditions related to HCV, terminology used to define treatment response, detailed SVR (cure rates) for both FDA approved and investigational interferon-free regimens, along with links to clinical trials, news and updates. If you haven't seen it, click here to begin.

New At HCV Advocate

New in March over at HCV Advocate is this months HCV Newsletter, one of my favorite publications. A few topics include Gilead's one pill combination of sofosbuvir (Sovaldi) and ledipasvir, and a update reviewing the latest HCV drug developments, written by Alan Franciscus, Editor-in-Chief. In addition, liver health and nutrition is always an important topic at HCV Advocate, advice for healthy food strategies and sleep disturbances in people living with hepatitis C round out this months newsletter.

The Big Commercial

Thank goodness, the topic of HCV has remained in the headlines over the last few months. A commercial, of sorts, brought to you by Gilead made its debut last week. Did you see it? You did? Did you notice what I noticed?

People with HCV are gorgeous!

Yep, both the men and the women in the commercial are beautiful. Although, for some reason, HCV never had that affect on me.

A Disappointment?

To be fair, the commercial addressed how serious this disease is, and mentioned that left untreated, it can lead to serious liver damage and liver cancer.

Obviously, any seasoned HCV patient, could not help but notice the commercial was targeting "baby boomers" without ever addressing the fact they were baby boomers.  Sadly, Gilead missed an opportunity to bring important awareness to the disease.

Flash Of Statistics

Some thirty seconds into the ad, a quick flash of text appears across the bottom of the screen, reading: Over 3 million people have hepatitis C. What a shame it didn't read; Over 3 million US citizens have hepatitis C, more than 75 percent of the estimated 3 million infected are baby boomers. If you were born between 1945 and 1965 - Get tested.

However, I guess that might be misconstrued as a advertising ploy, generally regarded in the field as "shockvertising."

The only thing is........ it is shocking.

In the end, we take what we can get. One commercial addressing treating this disease, is better then none. Gilead is one of a few drug companies that has, and will be - saving thousands of precious lives

This commercial (and campaign) is designed to get diagnosed patients to rethink treating their hepatitis C. And through empathy and understanding, we connect with hepatitis C patients and encourage them to take action by registering online at and to talk to their gastroenterologist about scientific advances that may help them move on from hepatitis C.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and the Oscars tonight!


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