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Liver disease in the United Kingdom (UK) - Statistics & Facts

The second largest organ in the human body is the liver. The liver performs many important functions such as filtering the blood; removing toxins from the body; maintaining cholesterol levels; fighting infections and aiding digestion. Liver disease can refer to any damage or disease of the liver, which includes cirrhosis, alcohol-related liver diseases and liver cancer.

Across the United Kingdom, the prevalence of liver disease deaths is higher among men than in women. In England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland the mortality rate from liver disease has been significantly and consistently higher among men. The same gender difference is also found in the prevalence of liver cirrhosis in the UK.

In 2018/19, there were almost 70 thousand hospital admissions in England due to alcohol-related liver diseases. This figure has been increasing year-on-year since 2007. In Scotland, there were approximately 6.6 thousand admissions due to alcoholic liver disease in 2020/21, this number was the lowest since 2012/13. The age group that had the most alcoholic liver disease deaths were those aged 55 to 59 years in both England .

In the UK, there were 115 individuals on the liver transplant list as of March 2021, the majority of whom were living in England. This figure was lower than normal due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic at that time meaning that only patients who were deemed clinically urgent were active on the liver transplant list. In this same period, 735 liver transplants were carried out in the UK, 606 of which took place in England. This meant the UK had a rate of 12.1 liver transplants per million population in 2020, the thirteenth-highest rate in Europe

There were nearly five thousand new cases of liver cancer diagnosed in England in 2019, while in the same year 650 cases were diagnosed in Scotland. In England, only 37 percent of those aged 15 to 44 years survived for five years after being diagnosed with liver cancer, with the survival rate declining in the subsequent older age groups. In Scotland the mortality rate from liver cancer was higher among males compared to females. The mortality rate for men was 14.5 deaths per 100,000 population, whereas seven women per 100,000 died from liver cancer. For both genders the rate has been increasing since 2000.

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