When does liver cirrhosis develop into liver cancer? New study to identify risk factors

Worldwide, liver cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths and the incidence rate for this tumour disease is increasing. Liver cancer is usually diagnosed at an advanced stage, when only systemic therapies are possible. In a new research project, researchers from the Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors in Dortmund (IfADo) therefore want to identify the risk factors for the transition from liver cirrhosis to liver cancer in order to facilitate early monitoring and intervention. The project is part of the LiSyM-Cancer project, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.


Liver cancer develops over many years in the context of progressive chronic liver disease, such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) or alcoholic fatty liver disease (ALD). Liver fibrosis often develops into liver cirrhosis and eventually liver cancer with its most common form hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). A favourable prognosis for HCC is often limited, as treatment options depend on early detection.

In all chronic liver diseases, the development of cirrhosis is the common factor for the development of HCC. Therefore, preventing the progression of cirrhosis is an important goal. Currently, there are no non-invasive testing or screening strategies to identify cirrhotic patients at high risk of developing HCC. The new research project aims to identify tissue and cell parameters that are crucial for the progression of liver cirrhosis to HCC.

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