Liver cancer causes 'have changed in recent years'

4 January 2012

Scarring from a hepatitis C infection and obesity are among the most common causes of liver cancer, a new review has found.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have found that the incidence rate for liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is on the rise and that cases have tripled in the US in the past 30 years.

The scientists also suggested that a ten to 12 per cent survival rate is associated to the cancers that are found in the late stages, as many are due to the relatively unknown spectrum of causes.

W Kim Ray, a specialist in gastroenterology and hepatology and principal investigator of one study into the disease at the clinic, said: "The studies illuminate the importance of identifying people with risk factors in certain populations to help catch the disease in its early, treatable stages."

He added that liver scarring is now more commonly caused by hepatitis C than the previously high-risk cirrhosis as a result of alcohol consumption, which can take up to 30 years to occur from the point of infection.

Furthermore, 11 per cent of case studies were linked with obesity and fatty liver disease.

According to the British Liver Trust, around 3,400 people are diagnosed with primary liver cancer in the UK every year.

Posted by Edward Bartel

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