Journal of Clinical Oncology article also claims that chemotherapy could reactivate HBV.

A team from the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center has discovered that past exposure to HBV  may increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. If patients with pancreatic cancer have such an occult, or hidden, case of HBV, chemotherapy may reactivate the virus, the scientists warn.

Previous research has shown that chronic HBV is a major cause of liver cancer. This study points to an association between liver cancer and HBV exposure, where people do not present outward signs of the infection.

For this study, which began in 2000, 476 M. D. Anderson patients with early pancreatic cancer were matched with 879 people without pancreatic cancer by age, gender, and race. The participants were tested for the presence of HCV and HBV antibodies, which indicate past exposure to the viruses.

The study showed that evidence of past hepatitis B infection was twice as common in people with pancreatic cancer (7.6%) than in healthy controls (3.2%). The association between hepatitis B exposure and pancreatic cancer remained statistically significant even after controlling for other risk factors such as smoking, the investigators report. People with both diabetes (an established risk factor for pancreatic cancer) and hepatitis B exposure had a sevenfold increase in pancreatic cancer risk compared to controls, they add.

Since exposure to HCV was not significantly different in the two groups, however, investigators say that more research is needed to examine this relationship.

The researchers also indicated that there may be an increased risk of liver failure after chemotherapy treatment among patients with pancreatic cancer who have a history of hepatitis B infection.

The study will be published in the Oct. 1 edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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