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In the US, an estimated 35,000 people are diagnosed with liver cancer and over 27,000 people die from the disease every year. Since 1980, rates of liver cancer have more than tripled and death rates have more than doubled, though there is some evidence that this upward trend is beginning to level off. For those eligible, being regularly screening for liver cancer can be key to receiving an early diagnosis, which significantly increases the treatability and survivability of the cancer. 

Liver cancer can develop in two ways: primary liver cancer is cancer that starts in the liver, while secondary liver cancer is cancer that spreads (or metastasizes) from somewhere else in the body. The most common type of primary liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), which can either begin as a single tumor that grows larger or as many small cancer nodules, the latter of which is most often seen in people with cirrhosis, of chronic liver damage.  

There are several factors that make someone at a higher risk of liver cancer, including being overweight or having obesity, having long-term hepatitis B or C virus infection, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, having hemochromatosis, and having cirrhosis. Some experts recommend people with cirrhosis, hereditary hemochromatosis, or chronic hepatitis B infection be regularly screened for liver cancer with alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) blood tests and ultrasound exams.  

The Carolina Cancer Screening Initiative aims to increase awareness around the importance of liver cancer screenings for those recommended, as well as accessibility to screening methods in North Carolina, particularly in areas of the state that are medically vulnerable.   

To find out how you can be screened for colorectal cancer, visit the CDC page on Liver Cancer or the American Cancer Society Website.