Increases in Liver Cancer Incidence Influenced by Higher Rates of Comorbidities

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Liver cancer incidence in the U.S. has grown since the 1970s, and the trend is expected to continue.
Liver cancer incidence in the U.S. has grown since the 1970s, and the trend is expected to continue.

Researchers at the American Cancer Society (ACS) are sounding a warning that greater efforts are needed to address racial disparities in liver cancer care. A new report is providing an overview of incidence, mortality, and survival rates and trends for liver cancer. The report, published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, suggests that differences in major risk factors and inequalities in access to care are contributing to significant racial disparities in liver cancer mortality.

Liver cancer incidence has been increasing in the United States since at least the mid-1970s, a trend that is expected to continue through at least 2030, according to Farhad Islami, MD, PhD, strategic director, Cancer Surveillance Research, Atlanta, Georgia, and colleagues. The researchers report that one major factor contributing to the increase is a higher rate of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection among baby boomers (persons born in 1945 through 1965). Among this age group, HCV prevalence is approximately 2.6%, a rate 6-fold greater than that of other adults.

The researchers report that increases in obesity and type 2 diabetes over the past several decades have also likely contributed to the trend. Other risk factors include alcohol and tobacco use. Furthermore, despite improvements in liver cancer survival in recent decades, only 1 in 5 patients survives 5 years after diagnosis.

The report identifies substantial disparity in liver cancer death rates by race/ethnicity, ranging from 5.5 per 100,000 in non-Hispanic whites to 11.9 per 100,000 in American Indians/Alaska Natives. 

Reference

1. Islami F, Miller KD, Siegel RL, et al. Disparities in liver cancer occurrence in the United States by race/ethnicity and state [published online June
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