Health & Beauty

Hispanics at higher risk of liver cancer

Dr. Mike Cusnir explains what can be done about liver Cancer and how to prevent it 

In partnership with the pharmaceutical company Esai, oncologist Dr. Mike Cusnir hosted a live online educational liver cancer event. The event took place virtually on Wednesday, February 10th at 7 pm. 

As Dr. Cusnir explained in the segment, it is of crucial importance that Hispanics especially educate themselves on the matter. He shared that 1 in 5 patients diagnosed with liver cancer type hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in the United States are Hispanic. 

There are three factors that most commonly lead to the development of liver cancer. These include underlying diseases, lifestyle choices, and ethnicity. 

As Dr. Cusnir said, “Unfortunately being Hispanic poses an additional risk for the development of liver cancer.” 

Some of the underlying diseases that would put a person at even higher risk are type 2 diabetes, obesity, hepatitis C, and fatty liver disease. In the United States, Hispanics are twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Nearly half of Hispanics live with fatty liver disease and don’t even know it. Hepatitis C is also common among older Hispanics that may contract it due to blood transfusions, organ donations, or sexual contact with an infected person. Clearly, as Hispanics, we must take additional precautions and be aware of our risks. 

While the stated conditions may be beyond our control, there are things you can do today to ease the risks. One must be mindful of the life choices made and limit those that can impact your health negatively.  

The harmful lifestyle choices are unbalanced diets, the sharing of needles, the use of tobacco, and the excessive consumption of alcohol. The good news is, one can change those lifestyle choices and eliminate the additional risks. 

Knowing and understanding your level of risk for developing liver cancer can make a huge difference. This is why Dr. Cusnir advises people to understand their risks and take action to protect themselves. For example, if one has type 2 diabetes, one must be sure that the blood sugar levels are being regulated. 

Liver cancer can be diagnosed by a doctor using diagnostic tests, lab tests, and biopsies. If you believe that you are a person of high risk, be sure to mention that to your doctor and have them assess you.

Once the cancer is detected, doctors will assess the size of the tumor, whether cancer infected other organs, and which other organs have been infected. This will help determine the stage of cancer. 

Liver cancer has two stages: early and advanced. If liver cancer is detected in the early stage, it can be cured with surgery or a transplant. If liver cancer is detected in the advanced stage, it can no longer be cured with surgery. Treatments will be done through localized or systemic therapy treatments. 

Dr. Cusnir advised, “Although 80% of the liver cancer cases are diagnosed in a stage too advanced for local therapy, there are more options available for those that can get diagnosed at earlier stages. This is why it is important to be conscious about your health.” 

The summary points given by Dr. Cusnir are:

  • Know your risks: If you are Hispanic, consider this information and educate your friends and family. 
  • Make healthy choices: Make the lifestyle choices that will prevent any additional risks.
  • Take action: If you believe you fall into the high-risk categories, contact your doctor and set up a physical assessment. 
  • Know your choices: If you get diagnosed, know your choices to see what would work best for you. 
  • Follow up: Always keep in touch with your doctor should any doubts arise, and follow up with your treatment plan if given one.  

Dr. Mike Cusnir serves as the Medical Director at Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami, Florida. Dr. Cusnir is also the Chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology at Mount Sinai Medical Center. 

To learn more about liver cancer and what you can do, visit the Our Lenvima website

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