Causes and prevention of liver cancer

What causes liver cancer?

The exact cause of liver cancer is unknown. But there are certain things called risk factors that can increase your chance of getting the disease. These include:

  • Infections: Infections such as hepatitis B and C can lead to liver cancer.
  • Smoking: If you smoke and also have hepatitis B or C, your risk is higher.
  • Cirrhosis: Liver cirrhosis is scarring of the liver. It can be caused by heavy alcohol use and infection. A small number of people who have liver cirrhosis develop liver cancer.
  • Genetic conditions: If you have an inherited conditions like genetic haemochromatosis, you have a higher risk of developing liver cancer. This is higher than normal levels of iron in your body.
  • Age: Your risk increases with older age, especially if you have liver cirrhosis.
  • Gender: Liver cancer is twice as common in men as it is in women.
  • Obesity and diabetes: Your risk of liver cancer increases if you are overweight and have diabetes.
  • Anabolic steroids: Research has shown that bodybuilders or sportspeople who use anabolic steroids have a higher risk of liver cancer.

If you feel you may be at risk, first talk to your family doctor (GP) about your concerns. He or she may advise you to visit a specialist. If you wish to give up smoking, talk to your GP or call the National Smokers’ Quitline on 1800 201 203.

Call our National Cancer Helpline

Freephone 1800 200 700 to talk to a specialist cancer nurse
It's open Monday-Thursday from 9am to 7pm and Friday from 9am to 5pm