- Avoiding risk factors and increasing protective factors may help prevent
- The following risk factors may increase the risk of liver cancer:
- The following protective factor may decrease the risk of liver cancer:
- Cancer prevention clinical trials are used to study ways to prevent
- New ways to prevent liver cancer are being studied in clinical trials.
Avoiding risk factors and increasing protective factors may help prevent
Avoiding cancer risk factors may help prevent certain cancers. Risk factors
include smoking, being overweight, and not getting enough exercise. Increasing
protective factors such as quitting smoking and exercising may also help prevent
some cancers. Talk to your doctor or other health care professional about how
you might lower your risk of cancer.
Liver Cancer Risk Factors
Incidence rates of hepatocellular cancer are rising in the United States due to increasing prevalence of cirrhosis caused by chronic hepatitis C and steatohepatitis (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease).
Cirrhosis of the liver due to any cause is a risk factor for liver cancer. The risk factors for liver cancer in cirrhosis are being male, age 55 years or older, Asian or Hispanic ethnicity, family history in a first-degree relative, obesity, hepatitis B and C, alcohol use, and elevated iron content in the blood due to hemochromatosis.
Chronic hepatitis B infection even without cirrhosis is a risk factor for liver cancer.
The following risk factors may increase the risk of liver cancer:
Hepatitis B and C
Having chronic hepatitis B or chronic hepatitis C increases the risk of
developing liver cancer. The risk is even greater for people with both hepatitis
B and C. Also, the longer the hepatitis infection lasts (especially hepatitis
C), the greater the risk.
In a study of patients with chronic hepatitis C, those who were treated to
lower their iron levels by having blood drawn and eating a low-iron diet were
less likely to develop liver cancer than those who did not have this treatment.
The risk of developing liver cancer is increased for people who have
cirrhosis, a disease in which healthy liver tissue is replaced by scar tissue.
The scar tissue blocks the flow of blood through the liver and keeps it from
working as it should. Chronic alcoholism and chronic hepatitis C are the most
common causes of cirrhosis.
The risk of developing liver cancer may be increased by eating foods that
contain aflatoxin (poison from a fungus that can grow on foods, such as grains
and nuts, that have not been stored properly).
Cancer is the result of the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells anywhere in the body.
The following protective factor may decrease the risk of liver cancer:
Hepatitis B vaccine
Preventing hepatitis B infection (by being vaccinated for hepatitis B) has
been shown to lower the risk of liver cancer in children. It is not yet known if
it lowers the risk in adults.
Cancer prevention clinical trials are used to study ways to prevent cancer.
Cancer prevention clinical trials are used to study ways to lower the risk of
developing certain types of cancer. Some cancer prevention trials are conducted
with healthy people who have not had cancer but who have an increased risk for
cancer. Other prevention trials are conducted with people who have had cancer
and are trying to prevent another cancer of the same type or to lower their
chance of developing a new type of cancer. Other trials are done with healthy
volunteers who are not known to have any risk factors for cancer.
The purpose of some cancer prevention clinical trials is to find out whether
actions people take can prevent cancer. These may include eating fruits and
vegetables, exercising, quitting smoking, or taking certain medicines, vitamins,
minerals, or food supplements.
New ways to prevent liver cancer are being studied in clinical trials.
Clinical trials are taking place in many parts of the country. Information
about clinical trials can be found in the Clinical Trials
section of the NCI website.