Regular exercise has been proven to reduce the chance of developing liver cancer in a world-first mice study that carries hope for patients at risk from hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
The research announced at the International Liver Congress™ 2013 involved two groups of mice fed a control diet and a high fat diet then divided into separate exercise and sedentary groups. The exercise groups ran on a motorised treadmill for 60 minutes per day, five days a week.
After 32 weeks of regular exercise, 71% of mice on the controlled diet developed tumours larger than 10mm versus 100% in the sedentary group. The mean number and volume of HCC tumours per liver was also reduced in the exercise group compared to the sedentary group.
EASL’s Educational Councillor Prof. Jean-Francois Dufour said the data showed the significant benefit of regular exercise on the development of HCC. Exercise decreased the level of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in mice receiving a high-fat diet. He said: “We know that modern, unhealthy lifestyles predispose people to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease which may lead to liver cancer; however it’s been previously unknown whether regular exercise reduces the risk of developing HCC. This research is significant because it opens the door for further studies to prove that regular exercise can reduce the chance of people developing HCC.”
Prof. Jean-Francois Dufour added: “The results could eventually lead to some very tangible benefits for people staring down the barrel of liver cancer and I look forward to seeing human studies in this important area in the future. The prognosis for liver cancer patients is often bleak as only a proportion of patients are suitable for potentially curative treatments so any kind of positive news in this arena is warmly welcomed.”
HCC is a cancer originating in liver cells and is one of the most common types of tumour. Worldwide, HCC accounts for approximately 5.4% of all cancers and causes 695,000 deaths per year, including 47,000 deaths in Europe per annum. It is the fifth most common cause of cancer in men and the eighth most common cause in women.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a primary malignancy of the liver. Hepatocellular carcinoma is now the third leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, with over 500,000 people affected. The incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma is highest in Asia and Africa, where the endemic high prevalence of hepatitis B and hepatitis C strongly predisposes to the development of chronic liver disease and subsequent development of hepatocellular carcinoma.
The presentation of hepatocellular carcinoma has evolved significantly over the past few decades. While, in the past, hepatocellular carcinoma generally presented at an advanced stage with right upper quadrant pain, weight loss, and signs of decompensated liver disease, hepatocellular carcinoma is now increasingly recognized at a much earlier stage as a consequence of the routine screening of patients with known cirrhosis, using cross-sectional imaging studies and serum alpha-fetoprotein measurements.
Resection may benefit certain patients, albeit mostly transiently. Many patients are not candidates given the advanced stage of their cancer at diagnosis or their degree of liver disease and, ideally, could be cured by liver transplantation. Globally, only a fraction of all patients have access to transplantation, and, even in the developed world, organ shortage remains a major limiting factor. In these patients, local ablative therapies, including radiofrequency ablation, chemoembolization, and potentially novel chemotherapeutic agents, may extend life and provide palliation.
Disclaimer: the data referenced in this release is based on the submitted abstract. More recent data may be presented at the International Liver Congress™ 2013.
Notes to Editors
In countries where hepatitis is not endemic, most malignant cancers in the liver are not primary HCC but metastasis (spread) of cancer from elsewhere in the body, e.g., the colon.
Treatment options of HCC and prognosis are dependent on many factors but especially on tumor size and staging. Tumor grade is also important. High-grade tumors will have a poor prognosis, while low-grade tumors may go unnoticed for many years, as is the case in many other organs, such as the breast, where a ductal carcinoma in situ (or a lobular carcinoma in situ) may be present without any clinical signs and without correlate on routine imaging tests, although in some occasions it may be detected on more specialized imaging studies like MR mammography.
The usual outcome is poor, because only 10 - 20% of hepatocellular carcinomas can be removed completely using surgery. If the cancer cannot be completely removed, the disease is usually deadly within 3 to 6 months. This is partially due to late presentation with large tumours, but also the lack of medical expertise and facilities.
This is a rare tumor in the United States. A new receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor, sorafenib has been shown in a Spanish phase III clinical trial to add two months to the lifespan of late stage HCC patients with well preserved liver function.
The main risk factors for hepatocellular carcinoma are;
cirrhosis of the liver
EASL is the leading European scientific society involved in promoting research and education in hepatology. EASL attracts the foremost hepatology experts and has an impressive track record in promoting research in liver disease, supporting wider education and promoting changes in European liver policy.
EASL’s main focus on education and research is delivered through numerous events and initiatives, including:
The International Liver CongressTM which is the main scientific and professional event in hepatology worldwide
Meetings including Monothematic and Special conferences, Post Graduate courses and other endorsed meetings that take place throughout the year
Clinical and Basic Schools of Hepatology, a series of events covering different aspects in the field of hepatology
Journal of Hepatology published monthly
Participation in a number of policy initiatives at European level
About The International Liver Congress™ 2013
The International Liver Congress™ 2013, the 48th annual meeting of the European Association for the study of the Liver, is being held at the RAI Convention Centre in Amsterdam from April 24 – 28, 2013. The congress annually attracts in excess of 9000 clinicians and scientists from around the world and provides an opportunity to hear the latest research, perspectives and treatments of liver disease from principal experts in the field.