Liver cancer deaths are expected to rise by at least 55% worldwide by 2040, unless additional efforts are made to combat this often preventable disease, according to researchers.
About 905,700 people were diagnosed with liver cancer and 830,200 others died from the disease in 2020 globally, according to a recent study published in early October by scientists from the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer based in Lyon, France.
The study published in the Journal of Hepatology, indicates that if the current spread and mortality rates continue, about 1.4 million people will be diagnosed and 1.3 million more will die of liver cancer by 2040.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer Epidemiologist and lead author of the study, Arieh Romgai, said that these results represent an increase of 500,000 cases annually.
The study found that liver cancer is one of the top three causes of cancer-related deaths in 46 countries, and one of the top five in about 100 countries, with the highest case and death rates in East and Southeast Asia, as well as North Africa.
“Liver cancer is often preventable if efforts are made to control it,” said study co-author, Isabelle Surgumataram, noting that, “the main causes for the disease are hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C, alcohol consumption, obesity and metabolic diseases, including type 2 diabetes”.
The researchers explained that the study’s shocking predictions stress the need to intensify the efforts to combat hepatitis B and C, which have been halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic, calling for more vaccinations, tests, and treatments.
“There must be measures to reduce the population’s consumption of alcohol and curb the spread of diabetes and obesity,” Rumgai concluded.