Liver Cancer is the 2nd most common cancer in Thailand. It is the highest incidence in men and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) Is the majority of primary liver cancer cases.
Globally, each year over 750,000 people are diagnosed with HCC, most often in late stages of the disease.
Risk factors of HCC
Chronic HBV infection is the leading cause of HCC in Thailand and other Eastern Asian countries
In the US and some countries in Europe the incidence and number of deaths from liver cancer has been on the increase in recent years.
In the US, this increase is faster than any other cancer, having doubled since the mid-1980s, which in part is due to the rising prevalence of fatty foods and obesity, a factor that is increasing the risk globally.
Risk factors include
- Hepatitis B and C virus
- Fatty foods and obesity
- Aflatoxin (a carcinogenic mould found in contaminated food, especially rice)
Signs and symptoms
HCC often doesn’t show symptoms until the advanced stages of the disease, but some people may experience:
- Abdominal pain or tenderness
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- Enlarged abdomen
- Unexplained weight loss
Screening and diagnosis
Surveillance programmes are associated with improved survival.
People at high-risk of developing liver cancer may undergo ultrasound examinations, which can be sensitive enough to detect small masses on the liver, or blood tests for protein levels (AFP).
If liver cancer is suspected, other methods of diagnosis are:
- Abdominal CT scan
- Abdominal MRI scan
- Liver biopsy
Current treatment landscape
There are limited treatments available for people across all stages of liver cancer, and even less if diagnosed at the advanced stage.
In fact less than 50% of people diagnosed with advanced HCC will survive more than a year after diagnosis.
Treatments currently available across different stages of the disease include:
- Surgery to remove masses
- Liver transplant
- Transarterial chemoembolization
- Tyrosine kinase inhibitors
Immune checkpoint inhibitors, which target the PD-L1 and PD-1 proteins
Future perspectives for people with HCC Despite the high prevalence of HCC,people with the disease still have few options and a low survival rate.
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