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Liver cancer incidence in older adults up 50% globally since 1990

March 24 (UPI) -- Liver cancer is on the rise globally, despite advances aimed at preventing the disease, a new study has found.

In an analysis published Tuesday in the journal Cancer, researchers from China report that while the number of cases of liver cancer in people 30 years old and younger has declined over the past 30 years, it has increased by more than 50 percent in older adults over the same period.

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The increase was particularly marked in men 60 years of age and older, the authors added.

"Our findings suggest the lack of attention for older people in current liver cancer prevention efforts and highlight the emerging concern of obesity as a risk factor for liver cancer," co-author Dr. Xingdong Chen, a professor at Fudan University in China said in a press release. "Liver cancer prevention strategies in both developing and developed countries should be tailored and updated."

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According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, more than 40,000 Americans are diagnosed with liver cancer annually. More than 30,000 die from the disease each year.

To obtain trends and estimates of liver cancer by age, sex, region and cause, Chen and his colleagues reviewed data from the Global Burden of Disease Study collected between 1990 and 2017. The study includes information on disease diagnosis and death rates from 195 countries and territories.

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Overall, the team found that global liver cancer cases among people age 30 and younger declined from 17,381 in 1990 to 14,661 in 2017. However, the number of adults between 30 and 59 years old diagnosed with the disease increased from 216,561 to 359,770 over the same period.

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In addition, liver cancer diagnoses among people 60 years and older increased from 241,189 in 1990 to 578,344 in 2017. After adjusting for age, the team found that the cases of liver cancer diagnosed in those 30 years of age and younger and those between 30 and 59 years of age dropped in both sexes.

However, in older adults, rates increased in males and remained stable in females. Compared with women, men 60 years of age and older had a more dramatic increase in liver cancer diagnoses. Men between age 30 and 59 also saw a milder decrease in cases compared to women.

Chen and his colleagues credited the availability of hepatitis B vaccination with helping to lower liver cancer rates among younger people. Hepatitis B virus can cause liver cancer. Liver cancer caused by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or buildup of fat in the liver, increased by the greatest magnitude in most regions.

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