Liver cancer death rates jumped 43 percent, according to a report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The research collected data from adults 25 and older in the United States from 2000 to 2016.
During this time, liver cancer rose from the ninth leading cause of cancer death in 2000 to the sixth leading cause of death by 2016.
“I think it’s surprising that it’s such a significant jump,” said Dr. Sam G. Pappas, chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology at Rush University Medical Center.
Among the 50 states plus Washington, D.C., the capital city had the highest death rate and Vermont the lowest. Illinois was in the middle.
According to state-by-state data from the CDC, in Illinois in 2016, 1,006 adults died from liver cancer.
Throughout the country during the years studied by the CDC, more men died of liver cancer; the death rate for men was between 2 and 2.5 times the rate for women, according to the CDC.
The age range when cancer rates increased the most were adults 55 to 64; this rate increased 109 percent from 2000 to 2013, but then remained stable through 2016.
According to Mayo Clinic, risk factors for liver cancer include chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus or hepatitis C virus, as well as cirrhosis, inherited liver diseases and excessive alcohol consumption.
Pappas said the data show a need for better screening for patients at a high risk for liver cancer. Those patients should see their physicians regularly, he said, be counseled about risk factors and then regularly screened.
“Obesity is a big risk factor that often goes overlooked,” he added. Long-term obesity can cause fatty liver disease, one of the leading causes of liver damage, he said.