Report Shows Increase in Liver Cancer Among Iowans

Mar 22, 2017

A new report from the State Health Registry of Iowa shows the rate of new liver cancer cases has tripled in the state since the 1970s.

According to the "Cancer in Iowa" report released Wednesday, new cases of liver cancer were detected in six of 100,000 Iowans in the period from 2010 to 2014. 

Dr. Michael Voigt is a clinical professor of internal medicine at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He said hepatitis B and hepatitis C are the primary risk factors for liver cancer.

“Hepatitis C is common in Iowa. The majority of people are undiagnosed and are not being tested," Dr. Voigt said. "As of March 2016, the Iowa Department of Public Health received 21,334 reports of hepatitis C among Iowans.”

He said that means there are thousands more Iowans who are undiagnosed and could be at risk for liver cancer.

The report shows liver cancer is particularly increasing among Baby Boomers—people born between 1945 and 1965—because that generation was exposed to hepatitis C before it was discovered.

Dr. Voigt stressed the importance of detecting and treating hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

"We have the ability to take the measures to prevent liver cancer in the future and all these other complications from these viral infections, but we do not have the motivation or help to get this done,” Dr. Voigt said. 

He said hepatitis C is also increasing dramatically among Iowans between the ages of 18 and 30.