Liver carcinoma prevention among Asian Pacific Islanders. Getting hepatitis B shots into arms

Cancer. 2001 Jan 1;91(1 Suppl):252-6. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(20010101)91:1+<252::aid-cncr14>;2-y.


Background: For the past 20 years, the hepatitis B virus (HBV) has infected at least 250,000 persons annually in the United States. Persons with chronic HBV infection are at increased risk for liver carcinoma. Among immigrants to the United States from countries with high HBV endemicity, high rates of chronic HBV infection account in large part for their high incidence rates of liver carcinoma. Among those who have not been infected, hepatitis B and hepatitis B-related liver carcinoma can be prevented through hepatitis B vaccine immunizations. In this article, the authors examine hepatitis B vaccine coverage rates from surveys of Asian and Pacific Islander children in Houston, Texas and Los Angeles County, California.

Methods: In Houston, the authors surveyed the parents of 300 students aged 10 to 18 years at a Vietnamese-language school. In Los Angeles County, they surveyed parents of 471 fourth grade students from 6 different Asian and Pacific Islander ethnic groups in 8 public elementary schools.

Results: In Houston, 55% of responding parents submitted immunization records indicating that their child had had 3 hepatitis B shots; 3% reported that their child had had no shots. In Los Angeles County, 37% (Filipino) to 67% (Japanese) had had 3 shots; proportions of children having had no shots ranged from 5% to 15%.

Conclusions: Under current immunization practices, the authors estimate that nearly 13,000 Asian and Pacific Islander children living in the United States today will become infected with HBV in the future, resulting in more than 600 liver carcinoma deaths. It is essential that cancer control agencies in the United States take leadership in raising awareness about the role of HBV in the etiology of liver carcinoma and that of the hepatitis B vaccine in preventing it.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asian*
  • California / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma / ethnology
  • Carcinoma / prevention & control*
  • Carcinoma / virology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines*
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs
  • Liver Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Liver Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Liver Neoplasms / virology*
  • Male
  • Pacific Islands / ethnology
  • Preventive Medicine
  • Risk Factors
  • Texas / epidemiology


  • Hepatitis B Vaccines