David Bowie’s lethal cancer on the rise

While the risk of dying in Australia from the most common types of cancers is decreasing, the cancer which killed David Bowie is increasing at a faster rate than any other, despite the majority of deaths being preventable.  

David Bowie
Photo credit: Ron Frazier

On World Cancer Day (February 4 2017), the head of WA’s largest medical research centre for adult diseases, the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, Professor Peter Leedman, said liver cancer is set to increase by 39% within fifteen years.

“When you compare this with the incidence of breast cancer, where mortality rates are expected to decrease by 28% in the same period, or prostate cancer which is expected to have a 16% drop, this is an extraordinary figure.

“The incidence of liver cancer is growing faster than any other cancer and is already the second leading cause of cancer death in the world. The World Health Organisation estimates that primary liver cancer may overtake lung cancer as the number one cancer globally, as early as 2020.

“World Cancer Day is a great opportunity to talk about cancer, the new treatments being developed, the symptoms to look out for and the ways to help prevent them.

“With liver cancer for example, heavy drinking, diets high in fat and sugar and the hepatitis virus are major causes of the disease, yet good nutrition and the hepatitis B vaccine can entirely prevent it.

“At the Perkins Institute we have teams focused on finding new treatments for a range of cancers.

“We have nearly 300 medical researchers at the Perkins in laboratories in Nedlands and at the Fiona Stanley Hospital which means we are located alongside patients, and that enables us to trial new treatments directly with patients.

“The Perkins is the only West Australian centre that runs first phase drug trials and as a result we attract US and other overseas companies to trial their treatments here in Perth,” Professor Leedman said.

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