Primary liver cancer cases in Queensland double in a decade

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More needs to be done to prevent primary liver cancer in Queensland, with the number of Queenslanders diagnosed more than doubling in the ten years leading up to 2014.

Statistics released by Cancer Council Queensland showed the number of people diagnosed with primary liver cancer has increased by more than 120 per cent, with 334 people diagnosed in 2014, up from 150 in 2004.

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan said liver cancer patients continued to experience an extremely poor prognosis, with 84 per cent of people diagnosed dying from their cancer within five years.

“Mortality rates from liver cancer have increased by more than 160 per cent, with 270 Queenslanders dying from the disease in 2014, up from 103 people in 2004,” Ms McMillan said.

“Men over 50 are around two to three times more likely to be diagnosed and die from the disease than their female counterparts.

“The most recent Australian Burden of Disease Study reported the fatal burden of liver cancer is projected to increase substantially by 2020 if action is not taken.

“In Queensland, while socio-economic disadvantage isn’t associated with the risk of being diagnosed with liver cancer, people living in more disadvantaged areas have significantly poorer survival.

“Primary liver cancer takes a tragic toll on individuals and our community, despite the fact many cases are preventable.”

Ms McMillan said there was an urgent need to raise awareness of the risk factors.

“Raising awareness is key to preventing deaths from this dreadful disease,” Ms McMillan said.

“The biggest known risk factor for primary liver cancer in Australia is the Hepatitis B or C viruses, followed by tobacco smoking, alcohol and obesity.

“In Australia, around 54 per cent of all liver cancer cases are preventable.

“Around 34 per cent of primary liver cancers are attributed to Hepatitis B and C infections, 20 per cent of cases can be attributed to tobacco, and 13 per cent to alcohol.

“Both Hepatitis B and C are spread by contact with infected blood, semen or other body fluids, and can cause infection and inflammation of the liver, which increases the risk of liver cancer.

“An estimated 47,350 people in Queensland are living with hepatitis C, and an additional 37,430 people are living with hepatitis B.

“We fully support ongoing action by the State Government, community health groups, and health service providers to promote testing for at-risk groups so that those who are most vulnerable can be given the care they need.

“Moreover, we will continue to work tirelessly to reduce the prevalence of tobacco and alcohol consumption, and to fight against overweight and obesity.

“Programs to improve the diagnosis and management of liver disease and subsequent causes, especially among people living in areas that are of a lower sociodemographic across Queensland, are critical in helping combat this disease.”

Ms McMillan said one third of all cancers cases in Queensland could be prevented through healthy lifestyle choices, including limiting alcohol and quitting smoking.

“By providing adequate education and prevention programs, access to treatment, and support services for all Queenslanders living in regional, rural or remote areas, we can reduce the burden of cancer in our state,” Ms McMillan said.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available via 13 11 20 or


For more information or interviews, please contact:
Laura McKoy,
Media Manager,
Cancer Council Queensland
Phone: (07) 3634 5345
Mobile: 0409 001 171