No one knows the exact cause of liver cancer. Doctors can seldom explain why one person gets this disease and another does not. However, research has shown that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop liver cancer. A risk factor is anything that increases a person's chance of developing a disease.
Researchers have identified the following risk factors associated with liver cancer:
- Having a chronic liver infection (such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C)
- Having cirrhosis
- Eating foods tainted with aflatoxin (poison from a mold that can grow on foods, such as grains and nuts, that have not been stored properly)
- Being male
- Family history of liver cancer
- Age (In the U.S., people over the age of 60 are more likely to have cancer than younger people.).
(Click Liver Cancer Risk Factors to learn more about the factors that can increase a person's chances of developing this disease.)
At this point, a routine, effective screening test for liver cancer has not yet been developed. Research is currently being conducted to look for a liver cancer screening test using ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), or blood tests.
(Click Liver Cancer Screening for more information on this topic.)