Cystic Fibrosis Patients Exposed to Higher Risks of Liver Cancer


Researchers from Colorado, in the United States, shared the results of a study that showed that patients with cystic fibrosis would be at higher risk of developing liver cancer. The Children’s Hospital in Aurora, Colorado, USA, has allowed researchers to conduct research that revealed the link between cystic fibrosis and cirrhosis and liver cancer.

According to the study’s report cited by EurekAlert, the research aimed to identify factors related to an increased risk of developing advanced liver disease when the patient already had cystic fibrosis. Mucoviscidosis is a rare genetic disease that mainly affects the respiratory tract and digestive system. As the scientists reported, liver cancer is “a complication that affects about 7% of all people with cystic fibrosis and is the third-leading cause of death.”

After four years of research, Dr. Michael Narkewicz, a pediatric gastroenterologist at the Children’s Hospital in Aurors, Colorado, USA, recruited 744 children and teenagers with cystic fibrosis who had no advanced liver disease at that time.

Cystic Fibrosis Patients Exposed to Higher Risks of Liver Cancer

All patients had a liver ultrasound scan noted by four radiologists in the study. One-quarter of those with a heterogeneous liver ultrasound model had a 9.3% increased risk of developing advanced liver disease.

“This is an important discovery that offers the opportunity to continue to test interventions that can slow or stop this progression. This could also be useful for screening in routine clinical care,” said Dr. Narkewicz.

Since cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease, it is present in children since their birth. However, some relatively rare forms are developing late and diagnosed in adulthood. The most common cystic fibrosis signs in an adult include some classic respiratory symptoms of the disease and in particular bronchorrhea. It is characterized by sputum of large quantities of mucus, which has a yellowish and opaque appearance and a high viscosity.

Ancillary symptoms can arouse suspicion, such as pancreatitis. The diagnosis is finally made through further investigation, including a sweat test, which sometimes remains at the limit of normal, and complete genome sequencing. The presence of a mutation of the CFTR gene indicates the presence of the disease.

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