Background: Liver cancer is one of the most common causes of death in the world. In Korea, hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a major risk factor for liver cancer but infection rates have been declining since the implementation of the national vaccination program. In this study, we examined the secular trends in liver cancer mortality to distinguish the effects of age, time period, and birth cohort. Materials and
Methods: Data for the annual number of liver cancer deaths in Korean adults (30 years and older) were obtained from the Korean Statistical Information Service for the period from 1984-2013. Joinpoint regression analysis was used to study the shapes of and to detect the changes in mortality trends. Also, an age-period-cohort model was designed to study the effect of each age, period, and birth cohort on liver cancer mortality.
Results: For both men and women, the age-standardized mortality rate for liver cancer increased from 1984 to 1993 and decreased thereafter. The highest liver cancer mortality rate has shifted to an older age group in recent years. Within the same birth cohort group, the mortality rate of older age groups has been higher than in the younger age groups. Age-period-cohort analysis showed an association with a high mortality rate in the older age group and in recent years, whereas a decreasing mortality rate were observed in the younger birth cohort.
Conclusions: This study confirmed a decreasing trend in liver cancer mortality among Korean men and women after 1993. The trends in mortality rate may be mainly attributed to cohort effects.