Liver cancer death rate in U.S. surged 43% in 16 years

Death rates from liver cancer increased 43% for American adults from 2000 to 2016, according to a report released Tuesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. The increase comes even as mortality for all cancers combined has declined.

Liver cancer death rates increased for both men and women 25 and older, as well as white, black and Hispanic people. Only Asians and Pacific Islanders saw a decrease in mortality from liver cancer.
The rise in mortality doesn’t mean that liver cancer is deadlier than before, according to Dr. Jiaquan Xu, the author of the report; the 10-year survival rate for liver cancer didn’t change much. Rather, the increase in mortality means more people are developing liver cancer.
More than 70% of liver cancers are caused by underlying liver disease, which has risk factors such as obesity, smoking, excess alcohol consumption, and hepatitis B and C infection, said Dr. Farhad Islami, the scientific director of cancer surveillance research at the American Cancer Society.
“I think the main reason for the increase in liver cancer incidence and death rate in the US is the increase in the prevalence of excess body weight and hepatitis C virus infection in baby boomers,” said Islami, who authored a study on liver cancer occurrence between 1990 and 2014.