Since the mid-1980s, liver cancer death rates have doubled in the U.S, making this the fastest growing cancer in the U.S. For 2017, it is estimated that there will be about 41,000 new cases and 29,000 deaths in the U.S. Liver cancer accounts for the fifth leading cause of cancer death in men, and eighth in women. Only one in five patients survives liver cancer five years after diagnosis.
Reasons behind these statistics are majorly attributed to the increase in the hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection among baby boomers (born between 1945–1965), which is at around 2.6% among this age group. This age group is at higher risk because the epidemic peaked around the middle of the last century, when syringes were being reused by doctors not knowing the risk to patients. HCV is contracted through infected blood; before the 90s, organ donors were not tested for HCV either. A rise in obesity and type II diabetes occurring over the past several decades has also likely been a contributing factor to liver cancer, as well as alcohol consumption and tobacco use. Alcohol increases the chances for liver cancer by about 10% per drinkper day, and tobacco raises the risk by approximately 50%.
Prevention and early detection are key to liver cancer prognosis. It is suggested that improvements to vaccinations, screening and treatment of HCV, maintaining a healthy body weight, high-quality diabetes care, and reducing excessive alcohol and tobacco use, will significantly impact the number of diagnoses going forward.
The information found in this article is courtesy of cancer.org. To find out more information about liver cancer, please visit our website or call our 24/7 Patient Services hotline at 1-800-227-2345 to speak with a specialist.
This is an ongoing series of columns dedicated to informing the Marco Island community about the American Cancer Society, the nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health concern by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and service. The Marco Island American Cancer Society office is located at 583 Tallwood St., Suite 101 and is open daily from 9 AM-5 PM. For more information about volunteering or any of the events mentioned in this column please contact Sue Olszak or Lisa Honig at 239-642-8800 ext. 3890.