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With liver cancer occurring most commonly in low-income countries, the need for safer, cheaper and more effective therapies is extremely high. Below are some possible prevention methods to reduce the likelihood of developing liver cancer.
The primary method of intervening involves prevention of risk factors. For example, the most cost-effective treatment for low-income countries is HBV vaccinations. Chronic cases of HBV can also be treated with medications. Although these treatments can hinder the effects of the infection, they rarely cure it. However, these medications can prevent replication of the virus and thus reduce damage to the liver and risk for liver cancer development. These medications include lamivudine, adefovir, tenofovir, telbivudine, entecavir, and the two immune system modulators, interferon alpha-2a and pegylated interferon alpha-2a.
Since there is no vaccine for HCV, prevention by controlling HCV infection can be more challenging. The best strategy is to avoid exposure to the virus by reducing exposure to blood products, unprotected sex, and unsafe medical procedures. Strategies include screening of blood donations, use of condoms, use of single use needles, and improving medical procedures and techniques. Antiviral therapies for HCV cured more than half of all treated patients.
Another encouraging prevention method for HCC is to reduce the risk of food contamination by aflatoxins using pre- and post-harvest interventions. Dispersing crops so that they are less concentrated and reducing the use of chemicals like pesticides, fungicides and insecticides reduce aflatoxin. The downside to this method is that it can be more costly.
Another option is to introduce strains of Aspergillus that do not produce toxic metabolites. Sorting the crop by hand also reduced aflatoxin exposure (Wu & Khlangwiset, 2010).
Other methods of prevention that should be considered include educating people to eat fully cooked food in areas where liver fluke infection is high. Liver fluke infection can also be treated relatively easily with praziquantel.