Liver cancer rates a wake-up call that it's time to address liver disease epidemic

Canadian Liver Foundation says prevention and early intervention in all forms of liver disease will reduce liver cancer and future demand for liver transplants

TORONTO, May 29, 2013 /CNW/ - Liver cancer is an alarm bell signaling the future of liver disease in Canada. Today's newly released Canadian Cancer Statistics 2013 show that liver cancer is one of the fastest rising forms of cancer in Canada. Unfortunately liver cancer rates are on the rise as a direct result of contributing liver diseases like hepatitis B and C and fatty liver disease not being identified and treated early enough.

"Hepatitis B and C and fatty liver disease do not cause liver cancer overnight," says Dr. Morris Sherman, Chairman of the Canadian Liver Foundation and a hepatologist who specializes in liver cancer research. "It can take anywhere from two to 20 years which gives us more than enough time to intervene. But we have to be vigilant. If we included liver tests as part of regular doctor visits for instance, we would be able to catch the early warning signs and take action and not only reduce the risk of liver cancer but also the future demand for liver transplants."

The Canadian Liver Foundation's Liver Disease in Canada: A Crisis in the Making report released earlier this year highlighted a 30% increase in liver-related death rates and called for the development of a national liver disease strategy  to improve screening, diagnosis, treatment and research into all forms of liver disease. Among the 21 recommendations included in the report were long-term and short-term measures to help reduce liver cancer.

  • universal neonatal immunization for hepatitis B;
  • liver tests included in regular doctor visits;
  • hepatitis C tests for all adults born between 1945 and 1975 and hepatitis B testing for immigrants;
  • access to affordable and effective treatment for all chronic hepatitis B and C patients;
  • regular liver cancer screening for at-risk patients...

"Liver cancer can be the end result of many forms of liver disease," says Dr. Sherman. "The key to reducing the incidence of liver cancer lies in early detection, intervention and prevention. We have the tools but what is lacking is the sense of urgency, supporting policies and available funding to implement them. These new statistics should be the wake-up call that it's time to pay attention to liver disease in this country before it's too late."

For more information on liver cancer, visit www.liver.ca  The CLF's Liver Disease in Canada Report is available for download at www.liver.ca/advocate

About the Canadian Liver Foundation
Founded in 1969 by a group of doctors and business leaders concerned about the increasing incidence of liver disease, the Canadian Liver Foundation (CLF) was the first organization in the world devoted to providing support for research and education into the causes, diagnoses, prevention and treatment of all liver disease. Through its chapters across the country, the CLF strives to promote liver health, improve public awareness and understanding of liver disease, raise funds for research and provide support to individuals affected by liver disease.

SOURCE: Canadian Liver Foundation

For further information:

Melanie Kearns Cell # 416-527-2567  mkearns@liver.ca

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Canadian Liver Foundation

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