Early diagnosis of liver disease can prevent cancer development
Liver disease is relatively common and, in the worst case, can result in liver cancer. With early diagnosis and appropriate treatment of liver diseases, cancer can usually be prevented, according to the German Liver Foundation on the occasion of World Cancer Day.
"Liver cell cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide," reports Professor Dr. Michael P. Manns, Chairman of the Board of the German Liver Foundation. Cirrhosis of the liver is preceded by the majority of these cancers. In about 80 to 90 percent of cases, liver cell cancer develops on the basis of cirrhosis of the liver, which in turn stems from longstanding liver disease, the expert said. Countermeasures initiated at an early stage could help here, but liver problems are often only recognized very late, as there are no noticeable symptoms at first.
Number of liver cancer deaths doubled
"The number of deaths from liver cell cancer has more than doubled since the 1970s" and "the numbers are also increasing in Germany," emphasizes Prof. Manns. Around 8,200 new cases and almost as many deaths can be found annually. The precursors to these cancers are often liver diseases that result in cirrhosis of the liver. However, affected people often do not have any symptoms when starting cirrhosis of the liver, so that it initially remains undetected. "That is why it is important that, on campaign days such as World Cancer Day, attention is drawn to the possibilities that prevention and early detection offer for the prevention of liver cell cancer," said the CEO of the German Liver Foundation.
Liver cell cancer is curable only in the early stages
According to the expert, elevated liver values in the blood are an essential warning signal for existing liver diseases and an ultrasound examination can also be used for diagnosis. However, "seven out of ten liver cell cancer diseases are still only being discovered in advanced stages," reports the German Liver Foundation. However, liver cell cancer can only be cured if it is discovered and treated early. The liver foundation is therefore calling for more preventive examinations and increased public awareness of the topic of liver cancer.
Liver cirrhosis is usually the preliminary stage
The liver cell cancer develops directly from the liver cells and mostly on the basis of cirrhosis of the liver, which goes back to a long-standing liver disease, explains the German Liver Foundation. With cirrhosis, "the healthy, active liver tissue is replaced by connective tissue, which cannot take on the diverse metabolic tasks of healthy liver tissue." The causes of liver cirrhosis are wide-ranging. According to Professor Manns, in addition to alcohol abuse, chronic infections with the hepatitis B, hepatitis C or hepatitis delta viruses, non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases (NAFLD) are also increasingly becoming risk factors. Furthermore, according to the expert, diabetes, hereditary metabolic diseases and mold in food can lead to liver damage with subsequent liver cell disease.
Willingness to undergo preventive medical check-ups decreases
The German Liver Foundation sees a lot of catching up to do when it comes to raising awareness about liver cell cancer, since current study results from the Forsa research institute have shown that people's fear of malignant tumor diseases is decreasing and their willingness to participate in preventive medical examinations is also falling. "Only 49 percent - almost every second - currently uses early cancer detection" and in the year ".2010 it was 60 percent," reports the German Liver Foundation. Interest in regular exercise and healthy eating is also declining.
Western lifestyle is a risk factor
"People have to understand that HCC precursors such as a non-alcoholic fatty liver often result from our western lifestyle, which is often characterized by too little physical activity and an overly rich supply of sugary food," explains Prof. Die Deutsche Leberstiftung Worldwide commitment to World Cancer Day and is active in various fields of action in the fight against liver diseases, which can lead to liver cell cancer. "The campaign goals coincide with our demands for early detection and a healthy lifestyle" and "we will continue our efforts in the fight against tumor diseases such as liver cell cancer"; Professor Manns concluded. (fp)