Liver cancer and Cirrhosis death rates spike

Liver cancer and Cirrhosis death rates spike

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

More and more people are dying from liver cancer and cirrhosis.

A new study by the BMJ shows deaths have spike by 65 percent from 1999 to 2016.

Over the last two decades liver cancer and Cirrhosis rates were thought to be decreasing or even holding steady. Around 2008,2009 the trend reversed and rates for both diseases began increasing sharply. 

According to the study, death rates among Native Americans increased on average of four percent every year since 2009. Rates among African Americans jumped to an annual increase of 1.7 percent from 2010 to 2016, and overall liver cancer rates doubled over the 17 year study. Over that same time frame Native Americans, Whites, and African Americans all saw increases of more that two percent a year. The largest increase was alcoholic cirrhosis among 25 to 34-year-olds.

Oncology doctor Fred Hardwicke said one of the alarming trends lies within those who received blood donations pre 1990.

"We've had a relatively effective program of screening blood donors so that if they had Hepatitis C it doesn't get passed onto someone else but before that time multiple units of blood and blood products were contaminated with Hepatitis C," Hardwicke said.

According to the study men are especially at risk of dying from liver cancer or Cirrhosis. Dr. Jehanzeb Riaz attributed it to increased rates in obesity and drug use.

"In men especially, there is high risk behavior of using illegal drugs and contacting hepatitis b and c through that but then there are other people who have other medical conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity which leads to increased fat deposits which can cause liver damage and liver cancer," said Dr. Riaz.

He said he recommends having your liver checked out regularly if you are over weight or diabetic in order to catch any warning signs. 

"If you are diagnosed with a chronic hepatitis b or c or excessive fat deposit in the liver then you need to have it thoroughly checked out by a Gastroenterologist which are the experts in the liver and digestive problems, and this thing needs to be monitored on a fairly regular basis. If you have a diagnosis of liver cirrhosis then you need treatment for liver cancer every six months with an ultra sound and some blood work to keep an eye on it because the key is to find it early and a cure is possible for liver cancer if you find it early enough," Dr. Riaz said.

He also recommends a lifestyle change if you are over weight or diabetic. 

"If they have fatty liver they need to change their lifestyle to adopting more health habits, decreasing the fats and carbs in their diets," he said.

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