Liver Cancer - Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Diseases / Research

Liver Cancer

liver tumor

Hematoxylin and eosin stain of hepatocellular carcinoma (right) with adjacent non-cancerous tissue (left). cancer

Photo by Fred Hutch Experimental Histopathology

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Fred Hutch scientists are pursuing new therapies for liver cancer and developing news ways to detect the disease at its earliest, most treatable stages.

Researchers are studying why some people get liver cancer after a hepatitis C infection.

Fast Facts

  • There are several forms of liver cancer, the most common of which is called hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Most primary liver cancers begin in liver cells, or hepatocytes.

  • Liver cancer's main cause is infection with hepatitis B or hepatitis C. Other risk factors include heavy alcohol use, obesity and diabetes.

  • The number of liver cancer cases associated with hepatitis C infection is likely to triple over the next 10 to 20 years because of virus's high incidence. Hepatitis C affects an estimated 3 percent of the world's population and 2 percent of the U.S. population.

  • The overall survival rate of HCC is poor because most patients are diagnosed when the tumor is in an advanced stage.

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Prevention & Causes

Alcohol linked to liver cancer risk - Consuming three or more alcoholic drinks a day is linked to a significant increase in the risk of developing liver cancer, according to a report released this week by World Cancer Research Fund International. Fred Hutch cancer prevention researcher Dr. Anne McTiernan was on the international expert panel that has provided the clearest indication to date of how many drinks may actually cause liver cancer. Learn more >

American Indian/Alaska Native -  Women have been found to be more than twice as likely to have and die from liver cancer, as compared to non-Hispanic White women. The main cause of liver cancer around the world is infection with the hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus. Learn more >

Asian Americans and liver cancer - The medical world still isn't sure exactly what causes liver cancer, but one thing is clear: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have the highest incidence of liver cancer of any racial or ethnic group in the United States. Learn more >

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Detection & Diagnosis

Understanding the role of genetics - Dr. Alice Berger is peering in detail at the role of particular genes in lung adenocarcinoma. She discovered that a gene known as RIT1 is often mutated in lung adenocarcinoma, and she demonstrated that mutations in RIT1 drive cancer formation. She is currently working to better understand the function of RIT1 and identify the molecular pathways it regulates, in order to discover new therapeutic targets.
Learn more >

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