Donna R. Cryer, JD, is the founder and chief executive officer of the Global Liver Institute (GLI), the only patient-driven liver health nonprofit operating in the US and Europe. She has channeled her personal experience as a patient with inflammatory bowel disease and a 25-year liver transplant recipient into professional advocacy across a career in law, policy, consulting, public relations, clinical trial recruitment, and nonprofit management. Donna is a graduate of Harvard-Radcliffe Colleges and Georgetown University Law Center.
Unlike many other cancer rates that have been on the decline, liver cancer rates for new liver and intrahepatic bile duct cancer cases have been rising. This October, which is Liver Cancer Awareness Month, Global Liver Institute is joining with more than 30 other leading health and medical organizations, to issue a global call-to-action to increase the 5-year survival rates for patients with liver cancer from 18% to 36% by 2030.
Last month marked the 25th anniversary since my liver transplant, but as a liver disease survivor, I remain at risk for liver cancer. Unlike most other cancer for which the causes are unknown, the causes of liver cancer are well known, identifiable, and, thus, highly preventable with regular screenings. However, the 5-year survival rate for liver cancer is only 18%, which is among the lowest for cancers in the United States.
The statistics are startling to me. Unlike many other cancer rates that have been on the decline, liver cancer rates for new liver and intrahepatic bile duct cancer cases have been rising, and rates have more than tripled since 1980. Even worse, death rates have more than doubled since 1980 despite treatment advances and promising research. This year alone, more than 42,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with liver cancer and more than 31,000 people will die from this disease.
That’s why this October, which is Liver Cancer Awareness Month, the Global Liver Institute (GLI) is joining with more than 30 other leading health and medical organizations, to issue a global call-to-action to increase the 5-year survival rates for patients with liver cancer from 18% to 36% by 2030.
There are rarely signs or symptoms of early-stage liver cancer. Therefore, early detection for those at risk through routine screening offers the best chance of finding liver cancer early when there is the greatest chance of cure. GLI supports the screening guidelines of leading medical societies, including the American Association of the Study of Liver Diseases and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network to encourage liver cancer screening every 6 months.
GLI has been at the forefront of supporting the introduction of federal legislation that can curb the rising liver cancer epidemic. The LIVER Act of 2019, H.R. 3016, sponsored by Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, D-New York, would drive several public health initiatives that will help people of all ages, lifestyles, and ethnic backgrounds reduce their risk for liver cancer and related illnesses by enhancing the federal government’s prevention, education, and disease surveillance capabilities while empowering local entities to promote treatment and raise awareness. We urge all Americans to support this legislation.
GLI will be working with its Liver Cancers Council, partners, advocates, and champions across the disease spectrum to create a roadmap that allows stakeholders to work together to reach the 36% 5-year survival goal by 2030 and save lives from this devastating disease. Through our collective efforts, we pledge to work collaboratively to develop a roadmap to achieve this bold goal and improve health outcomes and survival for all liver cancer patients. We welcome all health organizations to join us in our efforts to reach this important goal.