PETALING JAYA: Liver cancer in Malaysia is on the rise due to hepatitis B. It is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) which passes from person to person through blood, semen or other body fluids. Malaysian Liver Foundation president, Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican (pix) has called on Malaysians to protect themselves by getting vaccinated against Hepatitis B. "In Malaysia, liver cancer is the 5th most common cancer affecting men. The majority of our liver cancer patients have hepatitis B and that is why we remind fellow Malaysians that this is one cancer that can be prevented through vaccination," he said. Liver cancer is the fifth most frequently diagnosed cancer in adult men worldwide and is the second leading cause of cancer-related death. It is also the seventh most commonly diagnosed cancer in adult women and the sixth leading cause of cancer death. Worldwide, up to a million people die each year from liver cancer. Dr Ismail said men are more likely than women to develop the disease and majority of patients with liver cancer have chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis and understandably, older patients with long-standing liver disease are more likely to develop the cancer. " It is important to note that between 20 to 56 % of those with liver cancer have previously undiagnosed cirrhosis. In fact, 80% of our patients with liver cancer come too late for definitive treatment, not knowing that they are harbouring the disease for some time," he added. "It is advisable for people, especially those in the high risk group, to go for regular check-ups so that if detected with hepatitis or cirrhosis, appropriate treatment can be given. Molecularly targeted therapy is now an option for patients with inoperable cancer.