Decreasing incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma among children following universal hepatitis B immunization


Mei-Hwei Chang, Department of Pediatrics, National Taiwan University Hospital, No. 7, Chung-Shan S. Road, Taipei, Taiwan.
Tel: (886-2)-23123456, ext. 7120.
Fax: (886-2)-23938871.


Abstract: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the 10 most common malignant tumors worldwide. Chronic infection with hepatitis B or C virus is closely related to hepatocarcinogenesis. The outcome of current therapies for HCC is not satisfactory. Prevention is the best way to control HCC. Among the various strategies of HCC prevention, immunization against hepatitis B virus infection is the most effective. Universal hepatitis B immunization has proved to be effective in reducing the incidence of HCC to 1/4–1/3 of that in children born before the hepatitis B vaccination era in Taiwan. The problems we face in achieving global control of hepatitis-related HCC include: (1) no effective vaccine for the prevention of hepatitis C and its related HCC; (2) no immunization program for hepatitis B in areas with inadequate resources; (3) poor compliance to the immunization program as a result of ignorance, anxiety, or poverty; and (4) vaccine failure. Integration of the hepatitis B vaccination program into the expanded program of immunization for all infants throughout the world will be most urgent and important for HCC control. The reduction of the incidence of HCC will be seen in adults 30–40 years of age after the launch of the universal hepatitis B vaccination program. This concept of cancer vaccine can be applied to other infectious agents and their related cancers.