U.S. liver cancer rates on the rise

Avatar By Joseph Scalise | 2 years ago

Liver cancer death rates in American adults jumped 43 percent from 2000 to 2016, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While cancer mortality rates as a whole have declined, the sharp rise in such a small amount of time is cause for concern.

According to the new results, liver cancer death rates between 2000 and 2016 rose for men and women 25 and older, and they also spiked in black and Hispanic populations. 

However, that does not mean liver cancer has become deadlier. In fact, the 10-year survival rate for liver cancer did not change much. Rather, it is likely that more people get the disease as time goes on.

Past studies show that 70 percent of liver cancers come from underlying liver disease, which has risk factors like obesity, smoking, and alcohol consumption. In that way, there are many different factors in play.

“I think the main reason for the increase in liver cancer incidence and death rate in the US is the increase in the prevalence of excess body weight and hepatitis C virus infection in baby boomers,” said Farhad Islami, the scientific director of cancer surveillance research at the American Cancer Society, according to CNN.

Increased opioid use may also be a reason for the increased rates. That is because hepatitis C, which spreads through the sharing of needles, drove elevated rates of liver cirrhosis throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s.

Liver cancer survival rates depend on how early the disease is caught. Localized liver cancer has a 31 percent survival rate, while cancer that spread to one organ has an 11 percent survival rate, and ones that spread farther in the body have a 3 percent survival rate.

As a result, the team behind the new report hopes their research will make people more aware of liver cancer and encourage them take the necessary steps to lower their risk.

“Some of these liver cancer risk factors like obesity, diabetes and excess consumption of alcohol, those things can be prevented,” said report author Jiaquan Xu, a researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.