It is a disturbing prediction. The number of people who develop or die from liver cancer worldwide will increase by more than 55% by 2040 unless more is done to fight this often preventable disease; researchers estimated on Thursday. Some 905,700 people were diagnosed with liver cancer and 830,200 died from the disease worldwide in 2020, according to a new analysis by scientists from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a branch of the Organization. world health organization based in Lyon.
At the current rate, 1.4 million people will be diagnosed and 1.3 million will die of liver cancer by 2040, according to the analysis. This would represent an increase of some 500,000 in both the number of cases and the number of deaths per year; “unless we achieve a substantial decrease in liver cancer rates through primary prevention,” said IARC epidemiologist Harriet Rumgay, lead author of the study published in the Journal of Hepatology.
Essential control efforts
This research also found that liver cancer is one of the top three causes of cancer death in 46 countries, and is in the top five in nearly 100 countries. The number of cases and deaths is highest in East and Southeast Asia, as well as North Africa. “This cancer is largely preventable if control efforts are made – the main risk factors being hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, alcohol consumption, excess weight and conditions metabolic disorders, including type 2 diabetes,” study co-author Isabelle Soerjomataram said in a statement.
The study’s grim prediction illustrates the need to bolster progress to tackle hepatitis B and C, which have been held back by the Covid-19 pandemic; the researchers said, calling for more vaccinations, testing and treatment. Harriet Rumgay also pleaded for “measures aimed at reducing the alcohol consumption of the population and curbing the increase in the prevalence of diabetes and obesity”.