Advanced liver cancer could be cured with a new flu-virus based vaccine?

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Advanced liver cancer could be treated with a new viral vaccine, according to news reports being circulated over the internet if a new trial proves the efficacy of this new treatment.

It has been reported that the vaccine based on a laboratory-grown flu strain was found effective in animal studies and small human trials against advanced liver cancer.  A new trial was been planned to test the vaccine in 500 people with advanced liver cancer.

As always, dangerous side effects could be associated with this vaccine.  But the viral vaccine may be something that is better than nothing because patients with advanced liver cancer have no options for long term survival.  Doctors often give them less than six months to live.

As a viral therapy, the vaccine will be in part injected directly into the tumor. It is hoped that the virus introduced this way is expected replicate itself until the cancer cells are filled fully with the virus.

The virus is also expected to kill cancer cells near the tumor and penetrate tumors that have spread through the body.  Patients will experience some flu symptoms like a sore throat, a cough and a runny nose.  The vaccine is not expected to affect healthy cells.

Dr. Tony Dhillon, lead investigator for the study, at Royal Surrey County Hospital Oncologist was cited as saying that the trial was “potentially game-changing” considering no effective standard care for advanced liver cancer for more than a decade.

The trial results won’t be released within the next two to three years.

In the United States, about 40,000 new cases of liver cancer are diagnosed in 2017 and about 29,000 patients are expected to die of the disease this year.  More men than women are diagnosed with the disease.  Worldwide, about 700,000 people are diagnosed and more than 600,000 die of the disease every year.

Prevention is the best medicine.  Liver cancer like many other types of cancer can be prevented in many cases.   People need to know etiology of liver cancer and take effective measure to reduce their risk for the disease.

The very first important factor is hepatitis viruses like hepatitis B, C and D.  Hepatitis A does not cause as much damage.  Among young people, the hepatitis B is not as prevalent as among old people because young people often have been inoculated with hepatitis B vaccine, which is highly effective against hepatitis B.

Remember though that hepatitis B does not always result in liver cancer even though the risk is fairly high.  Some estimated over 20% of chronic hepatitis B virus carriers will develop liver cancer.  If you are a carrier, there is something you can do to minimize the damage induced by the virus.

Other hepatitis viruses can damage the liver as hepatitis B virus.

The second risk factor may be drinking alcohol.  Drinking alcohol can lead to a series of liver damages which can potentially eventually lead to liver cancer.

Some source claims that pesticide exposure has been associated with a 71% higher risk of liver cancer.  So eating organic foods can help minimize or eliminate this risk and lower the risk for liver cancer.

On the other hand, drinking coffee may help lower risk of a type of liver cancer called hepatocellular carcinoma or HCC, according to previous studies. Researchers of the study suggested that people at high risk for the cancer should start drinking coffee daily.

This study was based on data from 180,000 people who were followed up for 18 years.  The study found those who drank one to three cups of coffee each day were 30% less likely to be diagnosed with liver cancer, compared to those drinking less than six cups per week.  Those drinking four or more cups a day were 42% less likely to develop liver cancer.

Of course, this study does not reveal any causal relation, which means that drinking coffee may or may not be responsible for the decrease in the risk for liver cancer.

Another risk factor that many people may not know is belly fat.  When people eat a high sugar and high fat diet with a large amount of calories, they may grow both belly fat and the fat around the liver.  The fat around the liver can injure the liver tissue leading to fatty liver or nonalcoholic fatty liver diseases such as steatohepatitis.  (David Liu)

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