New research to predict risk of primary liver cancer in people living with chronic liver disease

Posted 13 Apr 2016.

Picture: Dr Yi Huang (left) with Dr Rajesh Thomas

A University of Western Australia researcher is using a Cancer Council WA grant to predict the risk of primary liver cancer in 16,000 West Australians living with chronic liver disease.

Wembley resident Dr Yi Huang is the recipient of a $135,000 Postdoctoral Research Fellowship which was announced as part of the annual Cancer Council WA Research funding grants.

She said she was grateful to be a recipient of the grant.

"The Cancer Council WA Postdoctoral Fellowship provides me with the opportunity to pursue my passion in cancer research," Dr Huang said.

The goal of Ms Huang's three-year research project is to develop blood tests that can accurately predict the risk of primary liver cancer, or hepatocellular cancer, in patients with chronic hepatitis C infection, chronic hepatitis B infection, alcoholic liver disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

The risk of primary liver cancer increases in patients living with chronic hepatitis C, chronic Hepatitis B, advanced liver fibrosis, those who consume excessive amounts of alcohol, are of an older age, and are male.

"The preliminary blood test developed for patients with chronic hepatitis C can accurately identify 90% of those patients with a high risk of developing primary liver cancer in the next five years," she said.

Around 5.5 million Australians have chronic liver disease and early detection of primary liver cancer is critical for successful management.

"Early detection of hepatocellular cancer allows the application of treatment options that can potentially cure the cancer, such as liver transplantation and surgical resection or ablation," she said.

The study is looking at the results of patients in WA who have already been identified as having chronic liver disease and have had detailed blood test results between 2006 and 2015.

"We have identified 16,000 patients with chronic liver disease and have collected candidate blood tests results for each patient.

"The blood tests can be performed in any standard pathology laboratory and can be performed at the same time as routine blood tests, such as liver function tests."

The grant is part of a $4 million dollar spend on research this year by Cancer Council WA announced on Friday.

Cancer Council WA, a community funded organisation, is one of the largest funders of cancer research in the State through a peer reviewed grants scheme.

Found in:  News - 2016 | View all news