Porphyria Increases Liver Cancer Risk by 5%, Study Shows

Sometimes, certain health conditions can increase the risk of developing other conditions. According to a new research study, this may be the case with porphyria and hepatocellular carcinoma. An article by Porphyria News explains that the study sought to understand the relationship between porphyria and primary liver cancer. This is because some forms of porphyria, such as the hepatic forms, can cause liver scarring and loss of function. Liver fibrosis and cirrhosis have also been linked to liver cancer. Therefore, the researchers wondered if porphyria itself could be considered a risk factor.

The data, published in Cancers, covers an evaluation of previous research findings from 19 studies. Altogether, data from 7,281 individuals with porphyria was examined. The researchers found that 4.8% of patients in the dataset had primary liver cancer, with 69% of those patients also having hepatocellular carcinoma. Incidences of the cancer rose with age. Additionally, researchers found that liver cirrhosis or fibrosis did not precede hepatocellular carcinoma in those who presented with it.

Ultimately, the researchers found that having porphyria increased the risk of liver cancer by approximately 5%. The research team believes this shows why those with porphyria should be screened yearly for cancer, especially liver cancer. Additionally, the researchers share, yearly screenings are especially crucial for those aged 50+. This is because liver cancer is more common within this age group and early diagnosis can be beneficial to treatment and overall outcomes.

Read more about this study at Porphyria News, or access the full data for the study here.

About Porphyria

Porphyria refers to a group of disorders in which heme production is interrupted. Normally, our body uses eight enzymes to produce heme, but when one of those enzymes is missing or not working, the process is interrupted. The body then accumulates too many chemicals responsible for porphyrin production. As porphyrin levels climb, health issues can occur. Porphyria can be described as acute (affecting the nervous system) or cutaneous (affecting the skin).

Symptoms differ based on subtype. For those with acute porphyria, symptoms can include:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Heart palpitations
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal, chest, leg, and back pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Muscle pain, tingling, weakness, paralysis, or numbness
  • Red or brown urine

Alternately, symptoms of cutaneous porphyria can include:

  • Sudden and painful skin redness and swelling
  • Itchiness
  • Blisters on exposed skin
  • Excessive hair growth
  • Urine discoloration
  • Burning pain caused by exposure to sunlight or artificial light
  • Fragile, thin skin
Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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