A surge in hepatitis C cases in the 1960s and 1970s may now be fueling an increase of liver cancer cases in the United States, according to a study reported in the November 19 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Using a national database obtained from a routine review of medical records, the researchers studied people in the United States who received a diagnosis of liver cancer between 1975 and 1998.
The researchers found that the incidence of liver cancer doubled from 1975 to 1998. Increasing rates were seen in all ethnic groups and in most age groups after 40 years of age.
Black people and older people had the highest incidence rates, but the largest recent increases between 1995 and 1998 were in white men 45 to 54 years of age.
The reserachers said the rise in hepatitis C virus infections that occurred during the 1960s and 1970s was due to needle sharing among intravenous drug users, transfusion of unscreened blood products and unsafe sexual practices.
Other sources: Annals of Internal Medicine 139:10; 817-823