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Drug and alcohol use could be factors in liver cancer deaths

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The opioid epidemic might be having another negative consequence, the death rates for those diagnosed with liver cancer.

The CDC released a study that showed just one in five patients diagnosed with the disease were alive after five years.

Dr. Asad Javed of Mayo Health System in La Crosse thinks needle usage might be contributing.

“The more unsafe injection practices, when it comes to drug use, happen, the more the incidents of hepatitis C,” he said, “which, over time, will cause liver disease, cirrhosis, and that’s the precipitant for liver cancer.”

Overall, baby boomers are more likely than other adults to get the disease.

Death rates in the U.S. have doubled from 2000 to 2016.

Javed says the treatment for liver cancer isn’t strong enough after a certain point.

“If they present to us, at an advanced stage, which is what has been observed commonly with patients in liver cancer over the past so many years, with chemotherapy is the way to go,” he said. “The control we get with just chemotherapy is not durable.”

Javed added that contributing factors like addiction to alcohol increasing haven’t helped, either.

“The very causes of liver cancer are also on the rise,” he said. “Behaviour aspects, like heavy drinking, seems to be increasing in the population in certain geographic areas in the U.S.”

Born in Decorah Iowa. I've been a news reporter for the last 10 years, starting right out of college in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Other professional opportunities led me to Marshalltown, Iowa and Antigo Wisconsin, before I finally was afforded the opportunity here in La Crosse. I've been here since 2016. I also act as the voice of local sports, doing play by play of high school and college football and basketball. When not working I enjoy golfing.

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