The Development of Liver Cancer

The development of liver cancer is believed to be related to infection with the hepatitis-B virus (HBV) and hepatitis-C virus (HCV). Scientists estimate that 10 to 20 percent of people infected with HBV will develop cancer of the liver. Evidence of HBV infection is found in nearly one-fourth of Americans with liver cancer. The exact relationship between HCV and cancer of the liver is being studied.

Researchers have found that people with certain other liver diseases have a higher-than-average chance of developing primary liver cancer. For example, 5 to 10 percent of people with cirrhosis of the liver (a progressive disorder that leads to scarring of the liver) will eventually develop liver cancer. Some research suggests that lifestyle factors, such as alcohol consumption and malnutrition, cause both cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Aflatoxins-a group of chemicals produced by a mold that can contaminate certain foods, such as peanuts, corn, grains, and seeds-are carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) for liver cancer.

See National Cancer Institute information on Liver Cancer

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