Liver cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. Now, new findings presented at the Global Hepatitis Summit reveal that liver cancer rates and deaths have doubled since the 1990s in the United States and other high-income countries, reports Medscape.
Researchers also discovered that liver cancer is the only major cancer in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom with an increasing mortality rate.
According to data, in 2015, the United Kingdom had the overall highest liver cancer incidence, followed by the United States. Australia and Canada had lower but significant incidence rates.
In addition, liver cancer mortality increased greatly among men and women. In the United States, the age-standardized mortality rates per 100,000 were 5.6 (males) and 3.1 (females) in 1993. These rates increased to 11.6 and 6.2 in 2014.
“Many of these liver cancers strike people in their 50s when they are still of working age,” said Morris Sherman, MD, emeritus professor of medicine, University Health Network and the University of Toronto in Canada.
Sherman pointed to the obesity epidemic and infection with hepatitis B and hepatitis C virus as causes for the uptick in liver cancer incidence and deaths.
For one, obesity has caused many people to develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which can progress to liver cancer. Adults aging with hepatitis B and C are also more likely to develop liver cancer.
The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 700,00 people are diagnosed with liver cancer annually around the world.
“Caught early, liver cancer is largely curable,” Sherman said. “And we could make a huge impact on future liver cancer rates by investing more resources in screening and diagnosis of hepatitis B and C.”
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