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Most causes of liver cancer remain unknown. But a number of risk factors can increase the chance of developing the disease.
Chronic liver infection: People who have been infected with the virus that causes hepatitis B or hepatitis C have an increased chance of getting liver cancer. These viruses can cause inflammation in the liver that leads to scarring, also called cirrhosis. Liver cancer can also occur earlier in your disease, before there is any scarring.
History of diabetes: People with diabetes who also have other risk factors, such as consuming large amounts of alcohol and/or chronic hepatitis, have a greater risk for liver cancer.
Obesity: Obesity can result in fatty liver disease and cirrhosis, which can increase the risk for liver cancer.
Aflatoxin: This chemical is made by a fungus usually found in warm tropical areas. Ongoing exposure to this fungus by eating tainted food increases your risk of liver cancer, particularly among people who also have hepatitis B or C.
Anabolic steroids: Long-term use of anabolic steroids has been shown to increase the risk of liver cancer to some degree.
Arsenic: Drinking water that comes from wells and certain natural sources is sometimes contaminated with arsenic. Exposure to arsenic over a long period of time can increase your chance of getting liver cancer.
Thorotrast: Thorotrast, an agent that gives off high levels of radiation, was once used as a dye in X-ray studies in the 1930s and has been linked to bile duct and liver cancer. Fortunately, this agent is no longer used.
Vinyl chloride: This is a chemical used in the manufacturing of certain types of plastics. Because it carries a risk of liver cancer, there is strict regulation of workers' exposure to vinyl chloride.
History of certain other diseases: Several other diseases have been linked to a higher risk of getting liver cancer. These diseases include:
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.
Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.