J Korean Med Assoc.  2019 Aug;62(8):416-423. 10.5124/jkma.2019.62.8.416.

Epidemiology of liver cancer in Korea

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine, Chonnam National University Medical School, Gwangju, Korea. ujingogo@paran.com

Abstract

The incidence rate of primary liver cancer in Korea, the majority of which is hepatocellular carcinoma, has been decreasing steadily since 1999. However, Korea still has one of the highest incidence rates of liver cancer worldwide. Currently, liver cancer is the fifth most common cancer type in men and sixth in women. A total of 15,771 cases (11,774 men and 3,997 women) were identified, with an age-standardized incidence rate of 18.0 persons per 100,000 (29.2 in men and 7.9 in women) in 2016. Mortality from liver cancer has also decreased since 2002 in both sexes, although it is still the second most common cause of cancer deaths with 10,721 deaths (7,982 in men and 2,739 in women) in 2017. The 5-year relative survival rate was 13.2% in those diagnosed in 1996-2000, and it increased to 34.3% in those diagnosed in 2012-2016. Hepatitis B (HBV) and C (HCV) viruses are the most important causes of liver cancer, accounting for approximately 70% and 10% of liver cancer cases, respectively. Recently, the seroprevalence of HBV has markedly decreased to less than 3%, and the HCV antibody positivity rate has been estimated as about 0.7% in a nationwide survey. The participation rate of patients with hepatitis in liver cancer screening, a part of the National Cancer Screening Program, was still low at about 60% in 2018. Recent advances in the treatment of HBV and HCV could further reduce the burden of liver cancer despite its limited accessibility.

Keyword

Liver neoplasms; Epidemiology; Korea
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