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  • What is liver cancer?
    • Liver cancer is a disease in which cancer forms in the liver cells. Liver cancer is very rare in the United States. Only 1.8% of new cancer cases every year are liver cancer. However, the percentage of Americans developing liver cancer has been rising slowly for several decades.

  • How is liver cancer related to the environment?
    • The liver plays an important role in removing harmful substances from our blood. This includes environmental contaminants we come into contact with during our lifetime. While the liver usually does a good job at removing those harmful substances, certain chemicals have been shown to damage the liver. For example, studies have shown that some people who drink water containing high levels of arsenic over many years could experience health effects including liver cancer.

  • What are the risk factors for liver cancer?
    • Certain people are at increased risk for liver cancer. Globally, 80% to 95% of all liver cancer cases are associated with hepatitis B or hepatitis C viruses. Other known risk factors include:
      * Gender--Some types of liver cancer are more common in men than in women
      * Race/ethnicity--In the U.S., Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have the highest rates of liver cancer, followed by African Americans, American Indians/Alaska Natives and Hispanics/Latinos, and Caucasians.
      * Chronic viral hepatitis--The most common risk factor for liver cancer is chronic infection with the hepatitis B or C virus.
      * Underlying health conditions--Cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver, increases a person’s risk of liver cancer. The majority of people with liver cancer have some evidence of cirrhosis.
      * Behavior--Heavy alcohol use has been linked to an increased risk of liver cancer by causing cirrhosis. Evidence suggests that smokers are at increased risk for liver cancer. Eating foods tainted with aflatoxin. This is a poison from a fungus that can grow on foods, such as grains and nuts, that have not been stored properly. Exposure to arsenic (Drinking water contaminated with arsenic, increases the risk of some types of liver cancer.)

  • How do you prevent liver cancer?
    • You may be able to reduce your risk for many types of liver cancer by avoiding known risk factors for the disease, such as:

      * avoiding becoming infected and treating hepatitis infections,
      * limiting alcohol and tobacco use,
      * limiting exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.

Last Revised: January 28, 2014


Data Query

Liver Cancer Data
Access the liver cancer data in the WI EPHT online database. Review the Data Details below to learn about interpreting the data.

The WI EPHT online database has data about other specific cancers:

Data Details

What is the data source?

The website provides data from the Wisconsin Cancer Reporting System, which is maintained by the Office of Health Informatics, Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

How does WI EPHT measure cancer?

The WI EPHT website includes the following measures:

  • counts for each cancer type
  • age adjusted rate for each cancer type

What are some considerations for interpreting the data?

While significant effort is made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the data, there are limitations that are listed below:

  • Reporting may be less complete from rural versus urban areas of the state.
  • Reporting may be less complete for cases where diagnosis and/or treatment occurs in a different state.
  • Reporting completeness is different depending on the type of cancer.

There are many factors that can contribute to a disease and should be considered when interpreting the data. Some of these include:

  • Demographics, e.g., race, gender, age
  • Socioeconomic Status, e.g., income level, education
  • Geographic, e.g., urban vs. rural
  • Changes in the medical field, e.g., diagnosis patterns, reporting requirements
  • Individual behavior, e.g., diet, smoking