HONOLULU (KHON2) – October is Liver Cancer Awareness Month and Hawaii has one of the highest rates of liver cancer in the U.S. 

The leading causes of liver cancer is from viral hepatitis B and C. According to the Hawaii State Health Department, across the U.S., new cases of hepatitis C are on the rise, increasing by more than 60% from 2015 to 2019.

Download the free KHON2 app for iOS or Android to stay informed on the latest news

DOH reported almost half of the people with hepatitis C are unaware of their infection. If you or your health care provider suspects a hepatitis infection, timely and complete testing is the first step.

However, they report one in three people with a positive HCV-antibody test do not receive a confirmatory RNA test.

Hepatitis C is curable for most people within 12 weeks. But without treatment about 20% of adults with chronic HCV infection will develop progressive liver fibrosis and cirrhosis which can lead to death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend all adults over age 18 get tested for hepatitis C, regardless of any known risk. 

Testing for hepatitis C involves a blood draw and can be requested through your current healthcare provider.

“Diagnostic Laboratory Services, Inc. (DLS) is proud to partner with the DOH to help our community fight liver disease and liver cancer through ‘reflex’ hepatitis C testing,” said Mark Wasielewski, President of Diagnostic Laboratory Service, Inc. “It is only by working together that we can realize a Hep Free 2030 Hawaii.”

HDOH announced its recent partnership with Diagnostic Laboratory Services and Clinical Laboratories of Hawaii to encourage providers to “reflex” hepatitis C testing.

Reflex testing ensures when an antibody screening test comes back positive, the specimen is automatically processed by the laboratory to confirm hepatitis C infection using an RNA test.

What’s going on around the globe. Find out in International News

“By promoting the option to ‘reflex’ hepatitis C screening tests to confirmatory tests, our local labs are helping to improve the pathway to cure for many people in Hawaii,” said Thaddeus Pham, DOH Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator.