Charities call on government to do more to limit unhealthy lifestyle choices

Liver cancer deaths have risen by 40% in a decade, with one of the country’s leading health charities calling for urgent action to reduce the “carcinogenic effects” of cheap alcohol and unhealthy food.

Liver cancer is now the fastest-rising cause of cancer deaths in the UK, the British Liver Trust has warned. Liver cancer death rates have more than tripled since the early 1970s.

Pamela Healy, chief executive of the British Liver Trust, said: “The key drivers of the increase in cases and deaths are alcohol and obesity.”

“Too many of us drink too much and are overweight. We urgently need government action on both issues. Government intervention can create a healthier environment for everyone. Government must urgently address the availability and abundance of unhealthy food Sexual issues, these foods are usually much cheaper.”

The intervention comes after the government delayed implementing rules banning supermarkets from overbuying foods high in fat, sugar or salt. Ministers are also facing calls from the Association of Public Health Directors for minimum unit pricing of alcohol, which was introduced in Scotland in 2018 with a minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol.

The UK Liver Trust has submitted evidence of rising liver cancer rates to the Parliamentary Health and Social Care Committee’s inquiry into the future of cancer care, which is reviewing innovations in diagnosis and treatment.

The position paper states that, in addition to the need for early diagnosis and access to the most effective treatment, there must be a greater focus on prevention. The biggest risk factor for liver cancer is liver disease, which can be reversed with lifestyle changes, including reducing alcohol consumption and losing weight, the report said.

The submission states: “We call for upstream interventions to reduce the carcinogenic effects of unhealthy food and drink environments. Regulating the affordability and accessibility of alcohol and unhealthy foods has been shown to play a role in reducing the burden of disease and addressing health inequalities population-wide measures are more effective than changing individual behavior.”

The charity is calling for a comprehensive alcohol strategy that addresses promotion and affordability. It states that alcohol is a Class 1 carcinogen, causing at least seven types of cancer. Figures compiled by Cancer Research show that liver cancer deaths in the UK have increased from 6.4 per 100,000 population in 2007-09 to 9.3 in 2017-19. Primary liver cancer has one of the lowest survival rates of all cancers.

The UK Liver Trust said increased surveillance of people at high risk of liver disease was crucial to ensure early diagnosis and improved survival. It also wants to see more investment in liver cancer research.

The government faces increasing scrutiny to see if more effective action can be taken to prevent obesity. Danone, one of the largest food companies in Britain and Ireland, said last month that ministers should consider taxing products high in fat, sugar or salt to tackle the obesity crisis.

In submissions to the inquiry, the Department of Health and Social Care said it aimed to have 75 per cent of stage 1 and 2 cancers diagnosed by 2028. The ministry said its interventions included community health liver screenings for people at high risk of having the disease. Targeting poor communities, the program aims to reduce the risk of cirrhosis.

A DHSC spokesman said: “We are taking action to encourage healthier food and drink choices and tackle obesity – recognizing obesity costs the NHS around £6.5bn a year and is the second leading cause of cancer – — while respecting the importance of obesity.” Personal Choice. This includes introducing calorie labeling on food sold in restaurants, cafes and takeaways, enabling people to make informed personal choices about their lifestyle.

“Over the past two years, the NHS has seen and treated record numbers of cancer patients, and an increasing number of cancers are being diagnosed at an early stage. We are also strengthening our cancer workforce and have released our first long-term workforce plan, providing more than £2.4 billion in support to deliver the largest expansion of training in NHS history over the next 15 years.”

Liver Cancer Therapeutics

Liver cancer therapeutics refer to the various treatment options available for liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The choice of therapy depends on factors such as the stage of the cancer, the patient’s overall health, and the underlying liver function. Some common liver cancer therapeutics include:

Surgical resection: This involves the surgical removal of the tumor and surrounding healthy tissues. It is considered the primary treatment for early-stage liver cancer if the tumor is localized and the patient has good liver function.

Liver transplantation: In cases where the tumor is limited to the liver and a suitable donor liver is available, liver transplantation may be performed. This is an option for patients with early-stage liver cancer who are not eligible for surgical resection or have cirrhosis.

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA): RFA uses high-frequency electrical currents to destroy cancer cells. It is a minimally invasive procedure in which a needle-like probe is inserted into the tumor, and heat is applied to kill the cancer cells.

Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE): TACE involves injecting chemotherapy drugs directly into the blood vessels supplying the tumor, followed by the injection of embolic agents to block the blood supply. This technique helps to deliver high concentrations of chemotherapy drugs to the tumor while restricting their systemic effects.

Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy drugs specifically target certain molecules or pathways involved in cancer growth and progression. Examples include sorafenib and lenvatinib, which are kinase inhibitors that interfere with signaling pathways involved in tumor angiogenesis and cell proliferation.

Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy aims to enhance the body’s immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells. Immune checkpoint inhibitors such as nivolumab and pembrolizumab have shown efficacy in a subset of liver cancer patients.

Systemic chemotherapy: Chemotherapy drugs are administered orally or intravenously to kill cancer cells throughout the body. While not as effective in liver cancer as in some other cancers, systemic chemotherapy may be used in certain situations, such as advanced-stage disease or when other treatment options are not feasible.

It is important to note that the selection and sequencing of liver cancer therapeutics are complex and depend on individual patient factors. Treatment decisions should be made in consultation with a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals experienced in the management of liver cancer.

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Cisplatin

Cisplatin is a chemotherapy medication used in the treatment of various types of cancer. It belongs to the class of platinum-containing compounds and works by interfering with the DNA replication process in cancer cells.

Cisplatin works by forming covalent bonds with the DNA molecule, causing cross-linking between DNA strands. This cross-linking prevents the DNA from unwinding and inhibits the replication and transcription processes necessary for cancer cell growth and division. By damaging the DNA, cisplatin induces apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells.

Cisplatin is administered intravenously and is usually given in combination with other chemotherapy drugs as part of a treatment regimen. The dosage and treatment duration depend on the specific cancer being treated and the patient’s overall health.

As with most chemotherapy drugs, cisplatin may cause various side effects, including nausea, vomiting, hair loss, kidney damage, hearing loss, and decreased blood cell counts. Supportive care and appropriate monitoring are important during cisplatin treatment to manage and minimize these side effects.

It is crucial to note that cisplatin is a potent chemotherapy drug that should only be administered under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional. The use of cisplatin and the specific treatment plan should be determined by an oncologist based on the individual patient’s condition and the type and stage of cancer being treated.

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