According to Cancer Research UK the number of deaths the result of liver cancer has sharply risen over the last few years, increasing by almost 80 per cent between 2007 and 2017. Experts say there are multiple reasons behind the increase. Firstly, more people are being diagnosed which is notoriously difficult to detect during the early stages which unfortunately also means the prognosis is not good.
Usually diagnosed too late
CRUK says if the cancer has developed to the point where surgery is no longer considered an option, survival is only a matter of months. Michelle Mitchell CEO of CRUK says whilst much progress has been made, it is worrying to see the number of deaths from liver cancer rising at such a fast pace. The charity is funding research into the biology of the disease so better treatments including immunotherapy can be developed.
Certain ethnicities at greater risk
According to the data, the number of deaths from liver cancer were 3,200 in 2007 in 2017 the figure stood at 5,700. After taking into account the changes in the population, this reflects an 80 per cent increase. There was a further 60 per cent increase in the number of people being diagnosed with the disease during the same time period. There are several factors liked with higher risk of liver cancer including old age, ethnicity AIDS and family history. Liver cancer is more common in black and Asian people.
Obesity is higher risk
According to CRUK, the increase in the liver cancer cases was probably in some part down to a rise in obesity and the associated health conditions. Estimates for obesity related liver cancer stand at just under 25 per cent. More than 50 per cent of all liver cancer cases are believed to be preventable with smoking, drug and alcohol use amongst high risk factors. There has been a steep rise in a type of liver cancer known as hepatocellular carcinoma which is probably down to improvements in diagnosing specific types of liver cancer.
Prevention is better than cure
The research also suggests that this type of liver cancer was more common amongst the more deprived sections of society with 25 per cent of cases coming from the poorest 20 per cent of the population. CRUK’s chief says she expects the number of deaths from liver cancer to continue increasing, with the number of people diagnosed between 2014 and 2035 to increase by 38 per cent. Doctors say the new research should serve as a call to policy makers to focus their efforts on both prevention and treatment of liver cancer. Prevention is always better than cure especially in the case of liver cancer, which typically only is detected once it has reached the final stages making it almost impossible to cure.