London, March 28 (IANS) Patients with alcohol-related liver cancer do not live as long as patients with liver cancer that is not associated with alcohol consumption, a new study suggests.
The findings suggest that patients with alcohol-related liver cancer have a reduced overall survival time mainly due to worse liver function and tumour characteristics at diagnosis.
Liver cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, with hepatitis B and C infections being the main causes.
“To improve prognosis of liver cancer in the alcoholic population, efforts should be made to implement effective screening programmes for both cirrhosis and liver cancer, and to improve access to alcoholism treatment services,” said co-author Charlotte Costentin from the Hôpital Henri-Mondor in France.
To compare aspects of alcohol-related and non-alcohol-related liver cancer for the study, published in the journal Cancer, researchers examined 894 patients with newly diagnosed liver cancer who were followed for five years. As many as 582 patients had a history of chronic alcohol abuse and 312 did not.
They also recorded whether patients with alcohol-related liver cancer were abstinent or not at the time of cancer diagnosis.
A total of 601 patients had died by the time of the investigator’s final analyses.
Alcohol-related liver cancers were more likely to be diffuse and were detected in patients with worse liver function. Median overall survival was 9.7 versus 5.7 months in the non-alcohol-related and alcohol-related groups respectively.
When researchers looked at each stage of cancer individually, however, survival was similar in patients with non-alcohol related and alcohol related cancer.
The findings indicate that efforts should be made to improve both screening for early signs of liver cancer and the management of alcohol abuse, the researcher said.