Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the five leading causes of cancer death in human. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is the most common etiologic agent of HCC in the world, particularly in areas prevalent for HBV infection such as Asia, Africa, southern part of Eastern and Central Europe, and the Middle East. Risk factors of HBV-related HCC include (1) viral factors-persistent high viral replication, HBV genotype C or D, pre-S2 or core promoter mutants; (2) host factors-older age (>40 years old) at HBeAg seroconversion, male gender; (3) mother-to-infant transmission; and (4) other carcinogenic factors-smoking, habitual use of alcohol, etc. Prevention is the best way to control cancer. There are three levels of liver cancer prevention, i.e., primary prevention by HBV vaccination targeting the general population, secondary prevention by antiviral agent for high-risk subjects with chronic HBV infection, and tertiary prevention by antiviral agent to prevent recurrence for patients who have been successfully treated for liver cancer. Primary prevention by hepatitis B vaccination is most cost effective. Its cancer preventive efficacy supports it as the first successful example of cancer preventive vaccine in human. This experience can be extended to the development of other cancer preventive vaccine. Careful basic and clinical research is needed to develop ideal vaccines to induce adequate protection. Understanding the main transmission route and age at primary infection may help to set the optimal target age to start a new cancer preventive vaccination program. Besides timely HBV vaccination, the earlier administration of hepatitis B immunoglobulin immediately after birth, and even antiviral agent during the third trimester of pregnancy to block mother-to-infant transmission of HBV are possible strategies to enhance the prevention efficacy of HBV infection and its related liver cancer.