Background: It has been suggested that obesity and fatty liver may be associated with the morbidity and mortality of liver cancer, and the early diagnosis and effective treatment of fatty liver coupled with liver cancer are supposed to improve the prognosis of obese patients. This review was attempted to understand the relationship between obesity, fatty liver and liver cancer.
Data resources: An English-language literature search using PUBMED (1990-2004) on obesity, fatty liver and liver cancer and other related articles in Chinese.
Results: Obesity is associated with the risk of death from all cancers and from cancers at individual sites including liver cancer, and it is an independent risk factor for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients with alcoholic cirrhosis and cryptogenic cirrhosis. Because nonalcoholic steatohepatitis has been implicated as a major cause of cryptogenic cirrhosis, the development of HCC may be part of progressive nature of this condition.
Conclusions: Obesity is associated with the incidence and mortality of HCC. More frequent surveillance for HCC may be warranted in obese patients with fatty liver and attempts should be made to interrupt the progression from simple hepatic steatosis to steatohepatitis, cirrhosis and ultimately HCC.