The dramatic increase in death rates from liver cancer are due to a perfect storm of an aging baby boomer population with hepatitis C, the rapid rise in the prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and the ongoing risk of liver cancer among patients with alcoholic liver disease.
Baby boomers and people with certain risk factors should be screened for hepatitis C. Getting tested is easy; current treatments are simple and have a high cure rate.
Approximately 3.5 to 5.3 million Americans are infected with viral hepatitis, but most people do not know they are part of a silent epidemic. This puts them at greater risk of developing severe complications of hepatitis and more likely to spread the virus to others. That’s why the federal government has called on certain groups of Americans to get tested for chronic forms of hepatitis and, if needed, undergo treatment.
Preventive care is a crucial aspect of chronic liver disease management, and liver cancer screening is a top priority. Liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma) is the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, and its incidence is expected to rise in the United States in coming years. So who should be screened for liver cancer, how do we make the diagnosis and what treatment options are available?
It’s common knowledge that over the last few decades there has been a significant increase in the number of children with obesity in the U.S. One of the complications of obesity is a condition termed metabolic syndrome, which consists of the combination of high cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, and waist circumference. Having metabolic syndrome has long been a well-known risk factor for heart disease, but less known is the relationship between obesity, metabolic syndrome and liver disease.
As a pediatric specialist who treats children with liver diseases, I am often asked to see children with a condition called “fatty liver disease.” In fatty liver disease, fat accumulates within the liver as a direct result of obesity and metabolic syndrome. The curious thing about this type of liver disease, however, is that it is identical to the liver disease seen in alcoholics.