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Sunday 18th March 2018

Liver cancer rates have trebled

20th August 2009

Cases of primary liver cancer have trebled in the UK over the past three decades, according to new figures.


It is common for cancer to spread to the liver, but Cancer Research UK is concerned at the sharp rise in statistics showing incidents where it starts in the organ.

Experts say alcohol, obesity and hepatitis C have seen the rise in liver cancer and that primary tumours frequently develop as a result of cirrhosis.

Matt Seymour, professor of gastronintestinal cancer at the University of Leeds, said: "We are seeing more patients with cirrhosis and, in turn, more patients with primary liver cancer.

"This is likely to continue. There is a long delay between exposure to the risk factors and the onset of cancer.

"It might take between 20 and 40 years for liver cancer to develop after infection with hepatitis C. So even if new cases of infection stopped, the number of cases would continue to rise for some years."

The British Liver Trust said that it is known that liver cancer is caused by years of liver damage, often from hepatitis infection or excessive drinking.

But spokeswoman Imogen Shillito said: “There are many interventions that can prevent liver cancer. In particular, if people at risk are screened for hepatitis B or C and are offered effective treatment before liver damage has set in, their risk of liver cancer drops dramatically.”

The charity wants see the NHS diagnosing and treating liver disease at an early stage to prevent liver cancer developing.


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