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Liver Cancer Rates Tripled in the United States Since 1970s

But survival has continued to improve

THURSDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- The incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma in the United States has tripled since the 1970s, although survival has continued to improve due to better diagnosis and treatment, according to a report published online Feb. 17 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Sean F. Altekruse, Ph.D., and colleagues from the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Md., investigated the age-adjusted incidence trends for hepatocellular carcinoma in the United States by analyzing data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results registries from 1975 to 2005.

The investigators found that the age-adjusted incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma tripled over the last three decades (from 1.6 to 4.9 per 100,000). The incidence rate was three times higher for men than for women. Asians/Pacific Islanders had the highest incidence and mortality, although mortality rates significantly decreased over time, the researchers report. Incidence rates increased with decade of birth for individuals born from 1900 to 1959. From the years 2000 to 2005, incidence rates markedly increased in Hispanic, black, and white middle-aged men, the report indicates.

"Hepatocellular carcinoma incidence and mortality rates continue to increase, particularly among middle-aged black, Hispanic and white men," Altekruse and colleagues conclude. "Screening of at-risk groups and treatment of localized-stage tumors may contribute to increasing hepatocellular carcinoma survival rates in the United States. More progress is needed."

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