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Liver cancer set to soar

Urgent action to tackle causes of liver cancer is needed now, following a 104% rise in cirrhosis hospital admissions. The British Liver Trust issued the warning to health officials on the day the cancer survival plan was launched. New figures issued by the government indicate that 24,042 people in England were admitted to hospital with cirrhosis in 2006, equating to 65 people a day.

Alison Rogers, Chief Executive of the British Liver Trust, said: “Over the last decade primary liver cancer in the UK has increased by 44%. We would like to see the government's plan to tackle cancer include liver health as a key tool in prevention.

“Hepatitis B is second only to tobacco as a human carcinogen in the world, causing 50% of all liver cancers. Patients with a chronic infection of hepatitis B are some hundred times more likely to develop liver cancer that those who are not infected. Better vaccine coverage could be a quick win in the battle against cancer,” said Ms Rogers.

The British Liver Trust would like to see better prevention methods in place to curb the rising rates of liver disease and liver cancer. This includes better messages centred around obesity, a universal vaccination for hepatitis B and better services for those with liver disease.

As many as one in 10 people in England have some form of liver disease and many of them die prematurely from this condition. The UK is the only developed nation with a rising rate of liver disease. Liver disease is currently the fifth biggest killer in the UK. However, while the mortality rates for the other four major causes are falling, liver disease continues to rise.

British Liver Trust