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Int J Circumpolar Health. 1998;57 Suppl 1:414-9.

Hepatitis B and hepatocellular carcinoma in Eskimo/Inuit population.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Alaska Native Medical Center, Anchorage, USA.


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is major risk factor for the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) worldwide. Serologic surveys performed in the 1970s and 1980s have demonstrated that Alaskan Eskimos, Canadian Inuit, and Greenland Inuit have very high prevalence rates of HBV. In Alaska, a high incidence of HCC in Eskimos, especially males, has been reported. Alaska Natives chronically infected with HBV have a relative risk of HCC of 148 compared to Alaska Natives who are not chronically infected. In Canada the incidence of HCC is six times more frequent in elderly Inuit than in Canadians in general. However, an elevated rate of HCC has not been found in Greenland. Primary prevention programs to prevent HCC by vaccination against HBV are being conducted in Alaska, Canada, and Greenland. In addition, in Alaska a program to detect HCC earlier by screening persons chronically infected with HBV, using semiannual alpha-fetoprotein testing, has resulted in detecting over 60% of HCC early enough for surgical resection.

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