Liver Cancer

Approximately 2,000 Australians are diagnosed with liver cancer each year, and the incidence rate for men is about three times that of females. The most common type of liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma, accounting for around 80% of all cases. Liver cancer incidence, particularly hepatocellular carcinoma, is nearly three times higher in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people compared to other Australians.

Liver cancer results from a chronic injury to the liver that leads to chronic inflammation, scarring (cirrhosis), and then to cancer. The most common causes of cirrhosis in Australia are alcohol-related liver disease, chronic hepatitis B and C, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Over 80% of hepatocellular carcinomas arise in patients with cirrhosis.

Liver cancer is the most rapidly increasing cause of cancer death in Australia (mortality rate in 2019 is about three times the 1982 rate). Liver cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people compared to the eighth for non-Indigenous Australians.


  • investigating the patterns of care of patients with liver cancer and identifying factors that influence survival
  • investigating the patterns of care, quality of life and supportive care needs of patients with cirrhosis aimed at designing suitable interventions that may delay the natural progression of disease to liver cancer and early identification of liver cancer
  • investigating the reasons for poorer health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with liver cancer compared to other Australians
  • developing blood tests for the early detection of liver cancer, when they are relatively small and where existing imaging techniques are not as effective in their identification. Detection of liver cancers when they are small would enable far earlier and more effective therapeutic interventions or cures