American Cancer Society Endorses Hepatitis B 'Catch-up' Immunization for Children: Urges Use of First Cancer Prevention Vaccine

Apr 26, 2001, 01:00 ET from American Cancer Society

    ATLANTA, April 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Citing hepatitis B virus infection (HBV)
 as the most significant risk factor for later development of liver cancer, the
 American Cancer Society today endorsed greater efforts to foster immunization
 against this virus of all children, from birth to age 18.
     "Preventing liver cancer with a vaccine against the virus that may cause
 it is a powerful and necessary tactic," said Dileep G. Bal, M.D., M.S.,
 M.P.H., national president of the American Cancer Society.
     "The hepatitis B vaccine is the first effective cancer prevention vaccine
 and we are committed to increase public awareness and use of this proven
 anti-cancer weapon," he said.
     "The burden of hepatitis B infection and liver cancer is significantly
 greater in Asian and Pacific Islanders than in whites in the United States.
 In fact, liver cancer is the third most common cause of cancer deaths among
 Asians and Pacific Islanders. This compares in rank order to breast cancer
 among whites. This disparity prompts us to also vigorously support efforts to
 prevent liver cancer, especially among Asians and Pacific Islanders," said
 Moon S. Chen, Jr., Ph.D., M.P.H., member of the American Cancer Society's
 national board of directors.
     About 5,000 people in the United States die each year from liver failure
 caused by HBV infection, including 1,500 who die of liver cancer.  Experts
 agree that HBV vaccine can provide protection against infection in 90-95% of
 healthy people.  In the US, hepatitis B shots were recommended by the Centers
 for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for people at high risk starting in
 l982, for all infants since l991, for all adolescents 11-12 year of age since
 l995, and finally, for all children up to age 18 since l999.
     For infants, the first of three shots is often given in the hospital or
 shortly after birth.  Since l993, about 90 percent of all children born in the
 United States have received their three shot HBV immunization series before
 their third birthday, but many children who are 8 and older have not been
 immunized yet.
     "The Society shares the deep concern that many of these older children,
 especially in the Asian and Pacific Islander community, missed immunization as
 infants," said Dr. Chen.
     "Let us join in a 'catch-up' hepatitis B campaign so that these youngsters
 do not need to die from a vaccine-preventable disease.  An ounce of prevention
 is worth more than a pound of cure ... and in the case of liver cancer, the
 chance of cure is slim," he said.
 
     Extensive information about liver cancer and hepatitis B vaccination can
 be found on the CDC website, http://www.cdc.gov and http://www.cancer.org as
 well as by calling the American Cancer Society's 24 hour, 7 day-a-week,
 toll-free telephone service at 1-800-ACS-2345.
 
     The American Cancer Society is the nationwide community-based voluntary
 health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem
 by preventing cancer, saving lives and diminishing suffering from cancer,
 through research, education, advocacy and service.
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -- Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X62844575
 
 

SOURCE American Cancer Society
    ATLANTA, April 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Citing hepatitis B virus infection (HBV)
 as the most significant risk factor for later development of liver cancer, the
 American Cancer Society today endorsed greater efforts to foster immunization
 against this virus of all children, from birth to age 18.
     "Preventing liver cancer with a vaccine against the virus that may cause
 it is a powerful and necessary tactic," said Dileep G. Bal, M.D., M.S.,
 M.P.H., national president of the American Cancer Society.
     "The hepatitis B vaccine is the first effective cancer prevention vaccine
 and we are committed to increase public awareness and use of this proven
 anti-cancer weapon," he said.
     "The burden of hepatitis B infection and liver cancer is significantly
 greater in Asian and Pacific Islanders than in whites in the United States.
 In fact, liver cancer is the third most common cause of cancer deaths among
 Asians and Pacific Islanders. This compares in rank order to breast cancer
 among whites. This disparity prompts us to also vigorously support efforts to
 prevent liver cancer, especially among Asians and Pacific Islanders," said
 Moon S. Chen, Jr., Ph.D., M.P.H., member of the American Cancer Society's
 national board of directors.
     About 5,000 people in the United States die each year from liver failure
 caused by HBV infection, including 1,500 who die of liver cancer.  Experts
 agree that HBV vaccine can provide protection against infection in 90-95% of
 healthy people.  In the US, hepatitis B shots were recommended by the Centers
 for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for people at high risk starting in
 l982, for all infants since l991, for all adolescents 11-12 year of age since
 l995, and finally, for all children up to age 18 since l999.
     For infants, the first of three shots is often given in the hospital or
 shortly after birth.  Since l993, about 90 percent of all children born in the
 United States have received their three shot HBV immunization series before
 their third birthday, but many children who are 8 and older have not been
 immunized yet.
     "The Society shares the deep concern that many of these older children,
 especially in the Asian and Pacific Islander community, missed immunization as
 infants," said Dr. Chen.
     "Let us join in a 'catch-up' hepatitis B campaign so that these youngsters
 do not need to die from a vaccine-preventable disease.  An ounce of prevention
 is worth more than a pound of cure ... and in the case of liver cancer, the
 chance of cure is slim," he said.
 
     Extensive information about liver cancer and hepatitis B vaccination can
 be found on the CDC website, http://www.cdc.gov and http://www.cancer.org as
 well as by calling the American Cancer Society's 24 hour, 7 day-a-week,
 toll-free telephone service at 1-800-ACS-2345.
 
     The American Cancer Society is the nationwide community-based voluntary
 health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem
 by preventing cancer, saving lives and diminishing suffering from cancer,
 through research, education, advocacy and service.
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -- Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X62844575
 
 SOURCE  American Cancer Society