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New research shows how coronavirus has impacted liver cancer patients around the world

20th April 2021

Thanks to supporters like you, an international study has been able to shine a light on the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the lives of people with liver cancer. Rates of liver cancer in the UK have increased by more than two and a half times since the early 1990s and continue to rise. Liver cancer now affects more than 6,000 people each year in the UK and only about 1 in 8 people survive for 5 years or longer after their diagnosis.

The study, published in JHEP Reports, found that almost 9 in 10 liver cancer treatment centres had to make changes to their clinical practice and, of these, 1 in 2 centres had to cancel curative and/or palliative treatments. Changes included the modification or even cancellation of screening programmes in 8 out of 10 centres and the cancellation of liver transplantation programmes in 4 out of 10 centres.

Researchers from almost 89 institutes, including Worldwide Cancer Research scientist Dr Jodi Bruix from the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, investigated the impact of the pandemic in 76 centres spread across 5 continents devoted to liver cancer patient care.

The research, part of the Liver Cancer Outcome in the COVID-19 pandemic project (CERO-19) also found that almost two thirds of centres that run clinical trials had to change their trial protocols and 4 in 10 were not able to recruit patients.

Dr Helen Rippon, Chief Executive of Worldwide Cancer Research, said:

“The results from the ongoing CERO-19 project are a timely reminder that people with cancer are in danger of becoming collateral damage as a result of everyone’s attention being focussed on “the other C” - coronavirus. The findings reported here reiterate how important it is to look beyond the pandemic to ensure that cancer patients don’t suffer twice.

“As a cancer research charity, we know that people with cancer have been hit especially hard by the ongoing pandemic. Not just by the virus itself, but also by delayed diagnoses and treatments, halted clinical trials and the ever-increasing impact on research funding. That is why – despite challenging circumstances - we are continuing to fund lifesaving research to start new cancer cures that will give patients more time with their loved ones.”

 

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