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Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975–2012

New liver cancer cases and deaths are on the rise in the United States. Rates of new liver cancer cases went up 38% from 2003 to 2012. Almost 23,000 people died from liver cancer in 2012. This is a 56% increase in deaths since 2003. Men died from liver cancer at more than twice the rate of women.

Death rates from all cancers combined for men and women continued to fall in the United States between 2003 and 2012. The findings are from an “Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer,” coauthored by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, the National Cancer Institute, and the American Cancer Society.

Report Highlights

  • From 2003 to 2012, the overall cancer death rates for both sexes combined went down by 1.5% per year.
  • During the same time period, incidence rates (new cancer cases that are diagnosed per 100,000 people) went down for men and stayed about the same for women.
  • Cancer incidence rates keep dropping mainly because more people are doing things to prevent cancer. For example, many people have quit smoking, leading to fewer cases of lung cancer.
  • Better treatments and screening tests that can find cancer early are helping to lower cancer death rates.

Special Feature: Liver Cancer

Unlike most other kinds of cancer, liver cancer incidence and death rates are going up. From 2008 to 2012, the liver cancer incidence rate went up an average of 2.3% per year, and the liver cancer death rate went up by an average of 2.8% per year for men and 3.4% per year for women. About twice as many men as women get liver cancer.

What Causes Liver Cancer?

  • In the United States, hepatitis C causes about 20% of liver cancers. People born between 1945 and 1965 are most likely to have hepatitis C.
  • Having hepatitis B also raises the risk for liver cancer. Asians and Pacific Islanders, especially Asians not born in the United States, are most likely to have hepatitis B.
  • Obesity, type 2 diabetes, and drinking too much alcohol can cause cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver, which can lead to liver cancer.

How Can I Reduce My Risk for Liver Cancer?

You can lower your risk of getting liver cancer in the following ways—

  • Get vaccinated against hepatitis B infection. The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all babies at birth and for adults who may be at increased risk.
  • Get tested for hepatitis C, and get treated if you have it.
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol.
  • Keep a healthy weight and prevent diabetes.