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Synopsis

According to a recent report from the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare, the mortality rate for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is more than 30 per 100000 pop­ ulation. In addition,epidemiologists predictan increase in this figure by the year 2015, because of the rather high incidence of chronic liver diseases caused by HCY. The same situation has been observed in other Asian countries. It seems that HCC is likely to be an endemic disease, because of the higher preva­ lence of chronic hepatitis and liver cirrhosis caused by HBV, HCV, and/or aflatoxins in Asian and African countries. We also note that an interesting paper appeared in a recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine describing the increase in younger HCC patients in the United States as compared with past decades. At present, silent hepatitis C infection is now smoldering in 4 million mostly unsuspecting Americans. Those carriers will be candidates for chronic liver disease, which is a pre­ disposing factor for the development of HCC. In Europe there are an estimated 5 million carriers. Accordingly, it is important to do all we can to reduce the prevalence of HCC not only in African and Asian countries, but also in the United States and Europe. With this perspective,last year the Japanese Society for Hepatology, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and Welfare, initiated a national campaign to fight HCC.

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