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Liver Cancers/Deaths Increased CDC Reports /
Testing & Access to Care are Keys: AASLD
  While the overall news is good, liver cancer incidence and death rates rose sharply compared to other cancer types, the report revealed.
Overall rates of cancer and deaths from cancer in the United States continue to decline, a newly released report says.....Overall death rates from all types of cancers declined for men and women by 1.5 percent from 2003 to 2012
However, an increase in liver cancer deaths is cause for concern, the report authors noted. An increase in hepatitis C infections is likely a major reason for the increase, they said.
"But the growing burden of liver cancer is troublesome. We need to do more work promoting hepatitis testing, treatment, and vaccination," Frieden added.
The authors provided several key findings in the report for liver cancer in particular. They found that from 2008 to 2012, the number of liver cancer cases increased by an average of 2.3 percent per year with the incidence rates being the highest in non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native men. For all racial groups, the incidence rate of liver cancer was nearly 50 percent higher in men than in women.
The number of deaths tied to liver cancer also increased. For men, the incidence rate went up by 2.8 percent per year from 2008 to 2012, and for women, the rate increased by 3.4 percent per year.
Testing and Access to Care Are Key to Reversing Rising Liver Cancer Incidence and Mortality Rates
ALEXANDRIA, Va., March 9, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, March 9, 2016, The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released The Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer. John Ward, MD, Director of CDC's Division of Viral Hepatitis noted the progress we are making against cancer overall, but he also stated that a rapidly increasing number of Americans are developing and dying from liver cancer. Liver cancer increased 72 percent between 2003 and 2012 and the rate of deaths due to liver cancer is increasing faster than any other type of cancer.
The report shows that liver cancer-related death rates were highest among populations most commonly diagnosed with hepatitis C virus (HCV) or hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections. As AASLD is the leading medical organization solely focused on the liver, we are well aware of this fact and that these primary causes of liver cancer are preventable and treatable. According to Dr. Ward's statement, with which we completely agree, "We have the tools we need to reverse this alarming trend [increasing number of Americans dying from liver cancer] - vaccination for hepatitis B, and testing and treatment for hepatitis B and C. But we urgently need to do more to ensure that these tools are available to and used by everyone who needs them."
We believe that appropriate testing and screening for viral hepatitis and increased access to care are the correct strategies for reducing liver cancer incidence and mortality rates. For HCV, we endorse and advocate a one-time age-based testing as well as additional testing based on risk. In addition to HBV vaccination which is now part of the infant vaccine schedule, AASLD recommends HBV testing for those groups who are disproportionately affected by the virus.
Once tested for and diagnosed with HCV, treatment using the recently discovered, developed, and FDA-approved direct acting antiviral therapies provides incredible cure rates. As the CDC report states, a little more than 20 percent of the most common liver cancers are attributed to HCV infection. Access to these therapies is a key component in eliminating a great proportion of liver cancer. According to AASLD's President Keith Lindor, MD, FAASLD, "In the past 25 years we have gone from identification to cure of the hepatitis C virus; now the onus is on us to make these life-saving therapies available to all of our patients who will benefit."
About the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases
AASLD is the leading medical organization for advancing the science and practice of hepatology. Founded by physicians in 1950, AASLD's vision is to prevent and cure liver diseases. Visit www.aasld.org for more information.
Media Contact: Gregory Bologna
Telephone: (703) 299-9766

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