Risk factors associated with liver cancer

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Hepatocellular carcinoma generally appears in patients with chronic liver disease. Accordingly, the most effective measure to prevent the onset of this tumour is to avoid the risk factors that cause liver disease.  

Two beer mugs crossed out indicating that alcohol is forbidden.

Consume less alcohol. Alcohol consumption is one of the leading causes of chronic liver disease and hepatocellular carcinomas. 


Hygienic measures. To avoid becoming infected with viral hepatitis (hepatitis B and C), it is important to take hygienic measures such as the use of sterile syringes (in the case of injecting drug users) or wearing condoms during sexual intercourse. In addition, there is an effective vaccine available for hepatitis B virus which prevents the onset of this cancer

A person lying on a sofa or bed representing sedentary lifestyles.

Diet and lifestyle. Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are associated with the appearance of chronic liver disease, hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma.  

In patients who have developed chronic liver disease, the most appropriate preventive strategy is to delay its progression to cirrhosis by administering an antiviral therapy and quitting any habits known to accelerate the liver disease.  

Once a patient has developed liver cirrhosis, there is always a risk of liver cancer even if the risk factors are eliminated (resolution of hepatitis C virus infection, patient stops drinking alcohol, etc.), so the patient must still continue with the normal check-ups.  

Cholangiocarcinoma shares many of the risk factors seen for hepatocellular carcinoma; however, unlike the latter, the former can develop in patients with no known risk factors. 

Substantiated information by:

Alejandro Forner González
Jordi Bruix Tudo
María Reig Monzón
Neus Llarch Alfonso

Published: 13 May 2020
Updated: 13 May 2020


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