By Imperial Medical Student, Aisha Chaudry
As part of my gap year placement, I was given the opportunity to be involved in the PROLIFICA study at the Medical Research Council Unit (MRC) in The Gambia.
PROLIFICA is an EC funded project investigating liver cancer, which arises because of cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, a chronic condition that can stop the liver from functioning.
Having reached my halfway point of my time abroad, I have decided to write a report about my experience so far.
Whilst being at the MRC, I have been able to experience research in both a clinical and laboratory setting.
By Professor Simon Taylor-Robinson and Professor Mark Thursz
Liver cancer is one of the leading causes of mortality worldwide, with an estimated annual mortality rate of 500,000 with a survival rate of less than 5%.
Cirrhosis (scarring of the liver as a result of continuous, long-term liver damage) is the main risk factor for the development of liver cancer in developing countries, such as in West Africa, where viral hepatitis B is the major cause of cirrhosis.
Generally, late presentation of patients with liver cancer results in poor prognosis, due mainly to insufficient and lack of affordable screening tools for early tumour detection.