Researchers have revealed rising rates of liver cancer in older adults, especially in men, despite advances aimed at preventing the disease. Liver cancer caused by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or buildup of fat in the liver, increased by the greatest magnitude in most regions, said the researchers.

"The findings suggest the lack of attention for older people in current liver cancer prevention efforts and highlight the emerging concern of obesity as a risk factor for liver cancer," said study lead author Xingdong Chen from Fudan University in China.

Decline in the number of cases diagnosed

To obtain trends and estimates of liver cancer by age, sex, region, and cause, the research team examined 1990-2017 data from the Global Burden of Disease Study pertaining to 195 countries and territories.

Liver
Representational Picture Wikimedia Commons

According to the study, published in the journal 'Cancer' liver cancer cases diagnosed before the age of 30 years globally decreased from 17,381 in 1990 to 14,661 in 2017. But they increased in people aged 30-59 years and 60 years and older from 216,561 and 241,189 in 1990 to 359,770 and 578,344 in 2017, respectively.

When applying age adjustments, the research team found that the incidences of liver cancer diagnosed before age 30 years and from 30-59 years decreased in both sexes, whereas in older adults, rates increased in males and remained stable in females. Compared with women, men had a more dramatic increase in liver cancer diagnosed at aged 60 years and older and a milder decrease in cases diagnosed at 30-59 years.

Hepatitis B vaccine attributed to the decline

A (since the hepatitis B virus can cause liver cancer) and were consistent in most regions except in developed countries, in which liver cancer rates increased irrespective of sex and age.

Liver cancer caused by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or buildup of fat in the liver, increased by the greatest magnitude in most regions, the researchers said. "Liver cancer prevention strategies in both developing and developed countries should be tailored and updated," said Chen.