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Indian J Gastroenterol. 1998 Jul-Sep;17(3):100-3.

Epidemiology of digestive tract cancers in India. III. Liver.

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  • 1Division of Digestive Diseases and Clinical Nutrition, Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai.


Liver cancer or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fourth commonest cause of cancer deaths in the world. The condition is extremely common in Southeast Asia and Africa. In this report the available data on the epidemiology of HCC from India are summarized. We estimate that 12,750 new patients will be diagnosed to have HCC in India in the year 2001; this will comprise 1.6% of all incident cancers. Published studies from India and those involving Indian immigrants to other countries suggest that the prevalence of HCC is relatively lower in Indians than in most parts of the world. This contrasts with the widespread contamination of foods with aflatoxin and the moderately high prevalence of hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV) virus-related chronic liver disease in India. There are no studies available to explain this observation. There are several articles on HBV and HCC in India but there is a paucity of analytical epidemiological data on HCV and HCC from India. Published studies indicate HBV to be the single most important etiologic association, with HCV playing a lesser but important role. About 80% of Indian patients with HCC have hepatitis virus-associated liver disease. Multicenter epidemiological studies are needed to solve some of the enigmas and observations peculiar to India.

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