Background In contrast to cancer there is no routine registration of the occurrence of newly diagnosed cases of cirrhosis across most of the world despite its high associated mortality. To therefore put in context the burden of cirrhosis within England we calculated incidence of disease and trends over time and compared this to the top twenty cancers diagnosed in the UK.
Methods We used the Clinical Practice Research Datalink and linked English Hospital Episode Statistics to identify adult cases of cirrhosis from 1998 to 2009. We described trends in incidence by sex and aetiology. We applied the age- and sex-specific incidence figures to (i) the 2009 age- and sex-stratified population of the UK, to estimate the number of people being newly diagnosed with cirrhosis, and (ii) the European age- and sex-stratified population, to calculate the change in incidence between 1998 and 2009.
Results A total of 5118 incident cases of cirrhosis aged 18 or over were identified between 1998 and 2009, 57.9% were male. Over the 12-year period crude incidence increased by 50.6% from 25.8 in 1998 to 37.5 in 2009 per 100,000 person-years. Incidence increased for all aetiology types. We estimated approximately 17,000 people were newly diagnosed with cirrhosis in 2009 in the UK, greater than that of the fifth most common cancer non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The percentage change in incidence of cirrhosis between 1998 and 2009 for both men (45.2%) and women (28.4%) was greater than that seen for the top four most commonly diagnosed cancers in the UK (breast, lung, bowel and prostate).
Conclusion Cirrhosis has increased more than that of the top four cancers during 1998 to 2009 in England. The burden of cirrhosis is continuing to rise for all aetiology types. Many of the aetiologies of cirrhosis are preventable; therefore strategies to monitor and reduce the incidence of this disease are urgently needed.
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