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U.S. News

New York: Virus Spreading -- High Hepatitis C, Liver Cancer Rate in Borough Population

May 25, 2010

A spike in the rate of hepatitis C throughout Queens is behind an "unusually high rate" of liver cancer in the borough, say local health officials.

Hepatitis C is a particular concern among newly arrived immigrants from Asia and Russia, said Dr. Mitchell Chorost, director of surgical oncology at New York Hospital Queens. Chorost said the symptoms of hepatitis -- nausea, fever, and fatigue -- are vague and easily overlooked.

"These cultures are very close people," he said. "They assimilate with each other and that's how they spread these diseases."

The rate of liver cancer among male residents of the borough is almost 14 cases per 100,000, about twice the overall state rate. From 2003 to 2007, male Asians and Pacific Islanders in Queens had a rate of 24.1 cases per 100,000 residents, according to state statistics. Women in the borough have a rate of 4.5 liver cancer cases per 100,000.

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