Understanding Liver Cancer

Liver cancer is a growing problem in the U.S.

Liver cancer is one of only a few types of cancer that are increasing in the U.S. In 2018, 42,220 adults in the U.S. were diagnosed with liver cancer.  Death from liver cancer is also rising in the U.S. Five-year survival rates for people with liver cancer are only 21%, so preventing liver cancer is very important.

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of primary liver cancer. The main risk factors for HCC are:

  • Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Hepatitis B
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (primarily in people with obesity or diabetes).

Any of these causes of hepatitis can cause cirrhosis, which is severe scarring of the liver.

Cirrhosis can lead to HCC.

The link between HCC and cirrhosis

 

Liver cancer in Texas

  • Texas leads the nation in the rates of liver cancer and HCV infection
  • Liver cancer death rates are the highest in Texas and 4 other states.
  • Unlike other cancers, rates of HCC are rising.
  • Approximately 400,000 Texans are chronically infected with HCV, which leads to HCC.
  • Learn about liver cancer treatment:

Learn more about liver cancer treatment

 

Who usually gets liver cancer?

Liver cancer (and HCC, its most common form ) occurs mostly in people who are 45 to 84 years old. The average age of patients at diagnosis is 63.

Even though HCC develops later in life, the damage to the liver starts about 20 years earlier, so prevention is very important.

Talking to your doctor about liver cancer

How can you prevent liver cancer?

When people are diagnosed with liver cancer, it usually has not spread outside of the liver.  But only 1 out of 3 of these people are still alive after 5 years, even if they have been treated. It is important to prevent liver cancer from starting. To do this, get tested for HCV and get treated if you have chronic infection

Cancer treatment options

What can you do?

Learn more about liver cancer causes, treatment and support at the American Cancer Society website, and how you can get involved in the fight against liver cancer.

Smoking significantly increases the risk of liver cancer as well as many other types of cancer. Learn more about the dangers of smoking and how to quit.

If you or a loved one have liver cancer, you may be interested in a clinical trial to receive the latest therapies. Find out more about ongoing clinical trials at the Mays Cancer Center.

 

The best way to stay safe from liver cancer is to prevent it.

Ask your doctor about HCV screening and treatment to prevent HCC.