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Liver Cancer Death Rate Surges 43% Since 2000

Liver Cancer Death Rate Surges 43% Since 2000
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By    |   Tuesday, 17 July 2018 09:17 AM

The liver cancer death rate has surged by 43 percent since 2000, while the mortality rate for all other cancers combined has declined, CNN reported.

It’s not that liver cancer has become deadlier over the years, researchers believe. It’s just that more people seem to be developing it.

A report released Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics found that liver cancer was the ninth leading cause of cancer death in 2000, but by 2016 it had jumped to sixth.

Risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, excessive consumption of alcohol and smoking can all contribute towards the development of liver cancers, along with hepatitis infections, the American Cancer Society said.

While obesity and diabetes are on the rise, experts believe the uptick in mortality rates for liver cancer could be linked to hepatitis infections.

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

Authors of the latest report agree with his sentiment.

According to Dr. Jiaquan Xu, who led the study, blood transfusions were not screened for hepatitis C until 1992.

And, because it takes several years for someone living with Hepatitis C to develop liver cancer, it could explain why researchers are finding an increase in the disease.

This theory fits in with the statistics that found that liver cancer mortality was greatest in those 75 and older, followed by those 65 to 74 and 55 to 64.

People who received blood transfusions and organs before 1992 would fall within these age brackets.

Contributing to these numbers could be the opioid epidemic, said Dr. Manish A. Shah, a medical oncologist at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian, CNN noted.

The 1990s and 2000s saw elevated rates of liver cirrhosis, a risk factor for liver cancer, which was caused by the spread of hepatitis C through the sharing of needles.

Islami, who authored a separate study on liver cancer occurrence between 1990 and 2014, noted that improvements in vaccination against hepatitis B virus, screening and treatment for chronic hepatitis C virus infections could go a long way in the early detection and prevention of the cancer.

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The liver cancer death rate has surged by 43 percent since 2000, while the mortality rate for all other cancers combined has declined.
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Tuesday, 17 July 2018 09:17 AM
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