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Oncology. 2008;75 Suppl 1:13-6. doi: 10.1159/000173419. Epub 2008 Dec 17.

Epidemiology of hepatocellular carcinoma in Japan and Korea. A review.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology, Kobe Asahi Hospital, Kobe, Japan.


The worldwide burden of liver cancer has been estimated at 671,000 new cases for the year 2005. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) accounts for between 85 and 90% of primary liver cancer and is one of the most frequent malignancies in Asia. In both Japan and Korea, the incidence exceeds 25 cases/100,000/year and ranks third in cancer deaths after stomach and lung cancer. In Korea the number of deaths from liver cancer increased from approximately 5,789 in 1983 to 9,966 in 1994, and then remained steady at 9,500/100,000 in 2003. In Japan the number of deaths from HCC increased until 2002, and then decreased to 34,089 in 2003, up to 15% of HCC cases are caused by hepatitis B virus (HBV) and approximately 80% by hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection; the corresponding figures in Korea are approximately 70 and approximately 20%. Recent clinical data have shown that interferon and lamivudine treatment is effective in preventing the occurrence of HCC attributed to HCV and HBV infection, respectively, and that an aggressive vaccination program against the latter reduces the incidence of HCC. With the enormous efforts of researchers devoted to basic and clinical studies, the incidence of HCC is expected, in the near future, to gradually decline in both countries.

Copyright 2008 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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