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High Hepatitis C, Liver Cancer Rate In Queens, NYC: Russians & Asians
 
 
  During a "State of the Hospital" presentation at New York Hospital Queens, Director of Surgical Oncology Dr. Mitchell Chorost subtly revealed a little-known reality within the borough.
 
The Borough At A Glance
"We're seeing an unusually high rate of liver cancer as a result of Hepatitis C," he said, citing ethnic factors as the main driving force behind the spike. "A lot of people don't realize that the problem is out there."
 

Chorost's findings, coupled with the 15th Anniversary of Hepatitis Awareness Month this May, bring a new urgency to raising awareness about this communicable and deadly, yet treatable, disease.
 
Nearly 80 percent of all untreated cases of Hepatitis C are believed to lead to liver cancer, according to the State Dept. of Health. The cancer itself causes 10,000 deaths nationwide each year.
 
Cultural Concerns
According to Chorost, a growing population of first-generation Asian and Russian immigrants has driven an increase in the overall rate of Hepatitis C and liver cancer.
 
"These cultures are very close people," he said. "They assimilate with each other and that's how they spread these diseases within each other."
 
It is a byproduct of a growing rate in their native countries, the doctor added.
 
"There is no vaccine against Hepatitis C. It's a worldwide epidemic, effecting namely Far East countries like China and Korea," he said. "These are patients who weren't aware they had it in China and Russia and they came with it. They're carriers."
 
Cancer By The Numbers
On a state-wide level, liver cancer has an occurrence rate of about 7 per 100,000, according to the CDC. Our borough dwarfs those figures.
 
By nearly every available measure, Queens has a higher rate. Nearly 14 of every 100,000 Queens men have liver cancer, and 4.5 among females.
 
When broken down, the rate per 100,000 residents doubles among Asian and Pacific Islanders.
 
>From 2003 to 2007, the rate of liver cancer among male Asian and Pacific Islanders was nearly double the statewide level, at 24.1 per 100,000, according to State Dept. of Health statistics.
 
The numbers are highly prevalent in neighborhoods with a high Asian population. Flushing leads the borough with a rate of 19.1 per 100,000.
 
Side Effects
The deceptive symptoms and low profile of Hepatitis C leads to a higher rate of liver cancer.
 
With fairly common symptoms such as nausea, fever and fatigue, it remains easy to overlook the possibility of infection. It has led many cases to go untreated, according to Chorost, and put an additional burden on NYHQ.
 
Simply put: They need more livers.
 
"The need for liver transplantation far exceeds the amount available," Chorost said.
 
Even with newer methods such as partial liver donations, the hospital is falling short of demand among patients in need of a liver transplant.
 
Reason For Hope
In spite of the figures, Chorost said Hepatitis C is very treatable when caught early.
 
"Pamela Anderson has Hepatitis C and she's doing really well," he said.
 
 
 
 
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