A Calgary doctor is seeing more cases of a rare and deadly form of cancer, an observation that matches the findings of a new report from the Canadian Cancer Society.
- Read more on the report: Liver cancer on the rise in Canada
Dr. Kelly Burak, who heads the Southern Alberta Liver Transplant Clinic, said the number of liver cancer patients is on the rise.
"When I started … in Calgary more than 10 years ago it was quite uncommon. You might see one or two liver cancer patients a month. Now typically we're seeing four or five patients a week," he said.
In 2011, the most recent year for which there is complete data, more than 500 individuals in Alberta were living with liver cancer.
In 2013, more than 170 men in Alberta are expected to be diagnosed with liver cancer and nearly 130 will die of the disease.
In 2013, 80 women in Alberta are expected to be diagnosed with liver cancer and about 60 will die of the disease.
Source: Canadian Cancer Society
Canadian men are three times more likely to be diagnosed with liver cancer now than they were in 1970. Women are twice as likely, data shows.
Hepatitis B and C are the biggest risk factors, said Burak.
"It's a big concern because we know that this is largely a preventable type of cancer," he said.
According to Zain Velji, a policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society, awareness is the key.
"Many people who have hep B and C do not even know that they have it," he said.
"So it's all about getting screened and it’s all about recognizing if you fall into a particular age demographic, or you fall into a particular risk factor demographic, to get screened as soon as possible."
The Canadian Cancer Society says about 250 Albertans are expected to be diagnosed with liver cancer this year, and many of them won't survive.