Liver cancer deaths climb by around 50% in the last decade

October 31, 2019

Liver cancer deaths have increased by around 50% in the last decade and have tripled since records began, according to the latest calculations by Cancer Research UK.

New mortality data shows that there were around 5,700 deaths from liver cancer in 2017 in the UK, which is the highest ever yearly number of deaths recorded. This has climbed from 3,200 deaths in

2007. Of all cancer types, liver cancer has had the largest increase in deaths over the last decade and the most rapid rise in deaths since UK records began.

Experts at Cancer Research UK believe that death rates have risen so steeply because the number of people being diagnosed with liver cancer has also increased - by 60% in the last decade - and survival is typically low. It's one of the hardest cancers to treat, and five-year survival can range from anywhere between 6% and 37% depending on age and gender.

The disease is difficult to treat mainly because it can be hard to spot at an early stage as it often doesn't cause symptoms until it has progressed. Because of this, emergency presentations are the most common route to diagnosing liver cancer and surgery isn't an option for many of these patients because the disease has already spread. Clinicians find that many patients also have chronic liver disease, so symptoms of cancer can be easily missed.

While there are several factors affecting liver cancer risk, being overweight or obese and smoking are two of the biggest preventable causes. 23% of liver cancer cases can be linked to being overweight or obese, and 20% can be linked to smoking. Overall, around half of cases are preventable.

Cancer Research UK's liver cancer expert, Professor Helen Reeves at Newcastle University, said: "Unfortunately, progress in treating liver cancer has been painfully slow and we desperately need more options for patients. Another problem is the rise in the number of people being diagnosed, which has meant we are losing more people to this disease than ever before.

"Rising levels of obesity and associated conditions like diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease have likely had a big role in this, although they aren't the only factors.

"But the good news is that there are some potentially game-changing treatments on the way. Research looking at refining immunotherapy has been hugely promising. It doesn't work in all patients just yet and we're still looking at why that is, but it can add years to lives when it does."

Every year, around 5,900 people are diagnosed with liver cancer in the UK. And this number is projected to rise by 38% in the UK between 2014 and 2035. Although liver cancer can happen at any age, it is most common in older people over the age of 60. And it's more common in Asian and Black people.

Cancer Research UK's chief executive Michelle Mitchell said: "A lot of progress has been made saving lives from cancer, but it's worrying to see deaths from liver cancer increasing at such an alarming rate. Far too many lives are being lost, which is why we're funding more research into this area. And aiming to understand more about the biology of the disease to develop better treatments.

"There are things we can all do to make a difference to our cancer risk and it's never too late to make a change. Keeping a healthy weight, not smoking, and drinking less alcohol will all help lower your chance of developing liver cancer."
-end-
For media enquiries contact Eve Gooden in the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 3469 8300 or, out of hours, 07050 264 059.

Notes to editor:


*Percentage change in rates in past decade calculated by comparing 2005-2007 vs 2015-2017. UK-level incidence data first became available in 1971

About Cancer Research UK
For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 0300 123 1022 or visit http://www.cancerresearchuk.org. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Cancer Research UK

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.