Worldwide, liver cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related death. Yet, with such prevalence, it remains challenging to treat. As numbers continue to rise, the value of liver research is critical to public health. Learn more about liver cancer and why research is important to find successful treatments.
As a rapidly growing cancer type, liver cancer is a growing area of liver research efforts. There are two types of liver cancer: primary and secondary. What distinguishes the two is that primary liver cancer originates in the liver. In contrast, secondary liver cancer spreads to the liver from other body points. Chronic viral hepatitis is a common risk factor for liver cancer, often leading to liver cirrhosis. However, there are other risks, such as excess drinking, having non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and smoking. Like most liver issues, liver cancer is hard to detect in the early stages. The liver can also fall prey to more than one kind of cancer simultaneously, demanding individualized treatment care options depending on the stage and severity. According to the American Cancer Society, over 800,000 people are diagnosed with liver cancer worldwide, tripling in incidence rates since 1980. In Arizona, diagnoses are also becoming more common, with liver cancer predicted to be a top cause of death across the state in 2022.
Treatments for liver-related conditions are not possible without ongoing liver research. National efforts such as the NIH’s 10- year Action Plan for Liver Disease Research launched in 2004. Researchers across the country are exploring ways to prevent or better treat hepatitis infections before developing liver cancer. More modern surgery techniques are being practiced making partial hepatectomy and liver transplants more effective and safer for patients. In addition, liver cancer treatment research in the Valley continues to grow, focusing on American Indian populations, as they are disproportionally affected by the condition.While there are many unknowns in liver cancer treatment, that doesn’t mean we aren’t on the right path. A great example is developing a more effective technique for detecting spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, a bacterial infection of the ascitic fluid that often leads to complications in those with cirrhosis. Researchers have learned that the microbiome could influence the development of fatty liver to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. This led them to devise a method that allows the pressure of build-up in the liver caused by hypertension to be measured. Quickly, this became the gold standard and was made possible by research efforts.
Research is critically important to advancing liver cancer treatments and managing other liver conditions.
Liver research would not be possible without participants! At Arizona Liver Health, we currently conduct local hepatology studies for various liver conditions. Contact us at either of our three locations or request more info here to learn more about how to get involved!
Chandler: (480)470-4000 | Peoria: (480)470-4000 | Tucson: (520)485-4000