10 Apr 2019

New recommendations for HBV during cancer therapy

Dr Joseph Doyle
Dr Joseph Doyle from the Department of Infectious Diseases was involved in the creation of Australian recommendations for the management of hepatitis B (HBV) during cancer therapy, which were released recently by the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases.

This Australian consensus statement simplifies the approach to testing and preventive strategies for HBV during cancer therapy for medical specialists in infectious diseases, hepatology, haematology, oncology and paediatrics.

Approximately 240,000 Australians are living with hepatitis B virus infection, and approximately 2.3 million Australians have been exposed or infected in the past. Individuals with current or hepatitis B are at risk of viral reactivation during cancer therapy. Reactivation can lead to liver failure, death or cancer treatment interruption that reduces cancer survival.
Given only approximately 62% of people living with chronic hepatitis B in Australia have been diagnosed, a key recommendation is that all patients scheduled to undergo cancer treatment should be tested for hepatitis B.

Dr Doyle chaired the guidelines steering committee, and said, “Given this national approach is recommended for all cancer patients, we encourage the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) to subsidise the cost of hepatitis B antiviral agents during cancer therapy.”

“The Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) should include rebates for hepatitis B virus testing during and after cancer therapy, in accordance with these recommendations."

The consensus statement can be found here: https://www.asid.net.au/documents/item/1741

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