Patients with liver cancer related to alcohol use have overall lower survival statistics compared with patients with liver cancer that is not associated with alcohol consumption, a study has found. The lead author of the study, which was based on a five-year tracking of nearly 900 patients, says improved access to alcohol treatment is among the strategies needed to remedy this imbalance.
Published online in the journal Cancer, the study looked at a group of newly diagnosed liver cancer patients, 65% of whom had a history of chronic alcohol abuse. Median overall survival was 9.7 months in the group with cancer not related to alcohol use, compared with 5.7 months in the group with cancer related to alcohol use.
An analysis of the individual stages of cancer led researchers to the conclusion that the reduced survival time stemmed mainly from worse liver function and tumor characteristics at a later time of cancer diagnosis.
The researchers also found that patients who had their liver cancer detected during participation in a cirrhosis follow-up program had better survival than patients whose cancer was diagnosed incidentally.
“To improve prognosis of liver cancer in the alcoholic population, efforts should be made to implement effective screening programs for both cirrhosis and liver cancer, and to improve access to alcoholism treatment services,” said lead author Charlotte Costentin, MD, of Hôpital Henri-Mondor in France.
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