What increases my risk of liver cancer?

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The cause of liver cancer is unknown. But there are risk factors that can increase your chance of developing the disease. These include:

  • Infections: Infections such as hepatitis B and C can lead to liver cancer.
  • Smoking:  Smoking increases your risk of getting liver cancer-if you smoke and also have hepatitis B or C your risk is even higher.
  • Cirrhosis: Liver cirrhosis is scarring of the liver. In Ireland, cirrhosis is mainly caused by alcohol misuse over many years, non-fatty liver disease (associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes) and hepatitis C or hepatitis B. A small number of people who have liver cirrhosis develop liver cancer.
  • Genetic conditions: If you have an inherited condition like genetic haemochromatosis (this causes higher than normal levels of iron in your body), auto immune hepatitis or primary biliary cirrhosis you have a higher risk of developing liver cancer.
  • Age: Liver cancer is more common in older people, 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.

Having a risk factor doesn’t mean you will definitely get cancer. Sometimes people with no risk factors get the disease. If you’re worried, talk to your GP or talk to one of our cancer nurses. Call the Cancer Nurseline on 1800 200 700 or visit a Daffodil Centre.

Reducing your risk of liver cancer

Things you can do to reduce your risk of liver cancer include:

  • Keeping a healthy weight for your height.
  • Not smoking.
  • Staying within the low-risk guidelines for alcohol.
  • Asking your GP about monitoring / surveillance if you have a disease of the liver.

 Read more about these and other cancer risk-reduction tips

For more information

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1800 200 700

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