Head of GI/GU Cancers, Roche UK
Prevention, early diagnosis and effective treatment are vital in combating this deadly disease
Over the last decade in the UK, cases of primary liver cancer have risen by almost two-thirds (63%) and it has the largest increase in mortality compared to all other cancers.
Around 5,900 people are diagnosed with liver cancer each year in the UK, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), accounts for 90% of those cases.
One of the biggest challenges we face is that liver cancer symptoms often do not appear in the early stages. As a result, liver cancer tends to be diagnosed at a more advanced stage, reducing the survival chances.
The symptoms include ones that many of us experience in day to day living, meaning that it’s even harder to know that there is an underlying condition: feeling very full after eating, even if the meal was small; feeling and being sick; pain or swelling in your abdomen (tummy); jaundice (yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes); itchy skin; feeling very tired and weak.
You can improve your chances of early detection by recognizing earlier symptoms and visit your GP as soon as you have any concerns.
How can we overcome the challenges?
Joanna Dixon-Winkler is the Head of Gastrointestinal and Genitourinary Cancers at Roche UK. Jo has worked across different cancer types with the ambition to improve the lives of patients She says: “Liver cancer has a low survival rate in comparison to some other cancers. Only 32% of women and 37% of men will survive their cancer for one year or more after diagnosis. But I believe we can turn this around by focusing on raising awareness of liver cancer to improve prevention, early diagnosis and clinical care, especially in those people we know have a higher risk of developing the disease.
“There is no way to prevent liver cancer completely, but some measures may help to reduce the risk; for example by moderating your alcohol intake, limiting the tobacco use and maintaining a healthy bodyweight.
“Early diagnosis and treatment are also important: if diagnosed early, it may be possible to remove the cancer surgically. In an advanced cancer stage, treatments such as chemotherapy or targeted therapy are used to slow down the spread of the cancer and relieve symptoms. However, taking part in a clinical trial could also be part of the care plan.”
Striving to help everyone in the UK to live longer and healthier lives
Jo is optimistic about the future: “Strides are being made across the healthcare sector, whether in the NHS, academia or the pharmaceutical industry. Collectively, we are passionate about researching and developing new ways to identify, prevent, diagnose and manage liver cancer.”
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 https://britishlivertrust.org.uk/6-facts-about-liver-cancer/  https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/liver-cancer/about-liver-cancer  https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/liver-cancer/  https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/cancersurvivalinengland/adultstageatdiagnosisandchildhoodpatientsfollowedupto2016#cancer-survival-in-england-patients-diagnosed-between-2011-and-2015-and-followed-up-to-2016-national-statistics  https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/liver-cancer/treatment/