DC tops liver cancer rates as related deaths surge nationally

In his new book, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel helps patients pick a good doctor. (Thinkstock)(Getty Images/iStockphoto/anyaberkut)
WASHINGTON — Liver cancer deaths are on the rise across the country, and especially in D.C.

There will be an estimated 29,000 liver-cancer deaths this year, according to a recent American Cancer Society study. Additionally, only 1 in 5 patients will survive after being diagnosed with liver cancer.

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Making matters worse, D.C. has the highest liver cancer rates in the country with 15 deaths per 100,000 men, and five such deaths per 100,000 women.

African-American men are also more likely to be diagnosed with liver cancer and generally have shorter survival times than others.

So what makes liver cancer so deadly?

It is often diagnosed in late stages when there are obvious symptoms that send a patient to the doctor, such as weight loss, appetite loss, nausea and abdominal pain.

When it comes to risk factors — having hepatitis tops the list. Baby Boomers are most likely to be impacted by that disease and should ask their doctor to test them for it if they haven’t.

In addition to hepatitis screenings, other ways to prevent liver cancer include maintaining a normal body weight, keeping diabetes under control and not over-imbibing in alcohol.

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Michelle Murillo

Michelle Murillo has been a part of the WTOP family since 2014. She started her career in Central Florida before working in radio in New York City and Philadelphia.

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