Liver disease is a major cause of illness and death worldwide. In China alone, liver diseases, primarily viral hepatitis (predominantly hepatitis B virus [HBV]), nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and alcoholic liver disease, affect approximately 300 million people. The establishment of the Expanded Program on Immunization in 1992 has resulted in a substantial decline in the number of newly HBV-infected patients; however, the number of patients with alcoholic and nonalcoholic fatty liver diseases is rising at an alarming rate. Liver cancer, one of the most deadly cancers, is the second-most common cancer in China. Approximately 383,000 people die from liver cancer every year in China, which accounts for 51% of the deaths from liver cancer worldwide. Over the past 10 years, China has made some significant efforts to shed its "leader in liver diseases" title by investing large amounts of money in funding research, vaccines, and drug development for liver diseases and by recruiting many Western-trained hepatologists and scientists. Over the last two decades, hepatologists and scientists in China have made significant improvements in liver disease prevention, diagnosis, management, and therapy. They have been very active in liver disease research, as shown by the dramatic increase in the number of publications in Hepatology. Nevertheless, many challenges remain that must be tackled collaboratively. In this review, we discuss the epidemiology and characteristics of liver diseases and liver-related research in China.
© 2014 by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.