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Do Race and Ethnicity Play a Role in the Etiology of Liver Cancer?

By: Chris Schimpf, BS
Posted: Friday, September 22, 2023

Racial and ethnic trends in hepatocellular carcinoma are the subject of a large study conducted by Paulo S. Pinheiro, MD, PhD, of the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Miami School of Medicine, and colleagues. Their findings, published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, suggested that the etiology of hepatocellular carcinoma varies across populations and may warrant specific interventions tailored to race and ethnicity.

“We need truly inclusive population data to establish causes and patterns for this disease, especially if we are to develop effective prevention and control efforts for those most vulnerable,” explained Dr. Pinheiro in a Sylvester press release. “To date, studies examining the burden of this cancer have been hospital-based, failing to consider the underlying population at risk, thereby limiting epidemiological information.”

Using data from Florida’s cancer registry, the state’s public health agency, and its hospitals’ discharge records, the investigators studied all liver cancer cases reported statewide between 2010 and 2018 (n = 14,420). Individual-level data from the three sources were used to estimate incidence rates and trends by etiology, leveraging the diversity of Florida’s population to examine patterns in detailed race-ethnicity groups: Central Americans, Cubans, Dominicans, United States–born and foreign-born Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and South Americans (rather than “Hispanic/Latinx”), and African American, Haitian, and West Indian (rather than “non-Hispanic Black”).

Among their many findings, the investigators observed that age-adjusted incidence rates of hepatitis C viral infection are particularly high among minority men born in the United States, including Puerto Ricans (10.9 per 100,000), African Americans (8.0 per 100,000), and Mexican Americans (7.6 per 100,000). They also reported that nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is more common among Hispanics and Filipinos, hepatitis B viral infection is more common among Asian and Haitian Black men, hepatitis C viral infection surpasses hepatitis B in Asian women, and the incidence of alcohol-related disease is high among specific Hispanic male groups.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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