Although the most common causes of liver cancer, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, are completely preventable and treatable, the World Health Organization reported that there were still approximately 700,000 deaths worldwide from primary liver cancer in 20081. More than eight out of 10 (84%) cases occurred in developing countries2. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the 5th most common cancer worldwide, the 3rd most common cause of death from cancer worldwide, and the number 1 killer in an increasing number of low-resource countries.
The World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO) seeks to raise awareness of this growing health crisis and reduce the number of individuals affected by supporting the worldwide fight to bring recognition through education and training concerning this disease. World Digestive Health Day (WDHD) 2013: "LIVER CANCER: Act Today. Save Your Life Tomorrow. Awareness. Prevention. Detection. Treatment." will serve as the perfect opportunity. HCC will be addressed, as well as the disease entities and factors that predispose to HCC, including hepatitis B and C, aflatoxin, NASH, alcohol, and excess dietary iron.
Prevention, early detection, treatment, and curability, supported by relevant epidemiological and clinical data, will be the main focus of the 2013 campaign. Through a multi-faceted approach, to include local and regional campaigns and conferences, the WDHD 2013 campaign will endeavor to inform healthcare providers and the community at large of the prevalence, risk factors, and causes of liver cancer and to present an evidence-based and patient-centered approach to the prevention, detection and treatment of HCC and its underlying causes. Regional conferences are currently planned for North America (United States), Latin America (Lima, Peru, during the annual meeting of the Latin American Liver Association-ALEH), Western Europe (Portugal, in conjunction with the Portuguese Liver Society meeting), Eastern Europe (Turkey, in conjunction with the Turkish Liver Society meeting), North Africa and the Middle East (in conjunction with the 5th Hepatology and Post Graduate Course and 14th International Workshop of Therapeutic Endoscopy in Cairo, Egypt), Sub-Saharan Africa (during the biennial HBPASA meeting in South Africa) and Southeast Asia. In addition, the AASLD Global Forum in November 2012 will focus on "HCC: Geographical Challenges" in the control of hepatocellular carcinoma with brief reviews on the "challenges" in North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. These efforts will include worldwide activities on World Digestive Health Day, May 29, 2013, and the local and regional campaigns and conferences referenced above, to be held throughout 2013.
During these remaining months of 2012 and throughout 2013, the official campaign year, various important initiatives will take place. Key among these will be a survey that will be distributed at key liver meetings, as well as generally, in order to collect important global statistics on liver cancer and liver diseases in various regions, with the results to be presented at the next World Congress of Gastroenterology, Gastro 2013 WCOG/APDW in Shanghai between the 21st and 24th of September 2013. In addition, a broad range of educational offerings are being planned for presentation during the campaign year and beyond. A Steering Committee with a global perspective on liver cancer will provide guidance to WGO member organizations, with a special emphasis on lower-resource regions, with additional support from the WGO Global Guidelines and Cascades on Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC), NAFLD-NASH, Management of Acute Viral Hepatitis and Esophageal Varices.
The WGO looks forward to helping provide a better understanding and recognition of the global burden of liver disease and liver cancer throughout 2013 and beyond.
Douglas R. LaBrecque, MD, FACP
Founding Member, WGOF