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Liver cancer : Causes-Symptoms-Diagnosis-Treatment


What is Liver Cancer?

Liver cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the cells of your liver. Your liver is a large organ that is located in the upper right portion of your abdomen, below your diaphragm and above your stomach.

Cancer can form in the liver in a number of different ways. The most common type of liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma, which begins in the main type of liver cell. Other types of liver cancer are much less common.

What is Liver Cancer?
 Liver Cancer

Cancer that spreads to other parts of the body is more common than cancer that begins in the liver cells. Cancer that begins in another area of the body, such as the colon, lung, or breast, and then spreads to the liver is called metastatic cancer rather than liver cancer. This type of cancer is named according to where it started. Cancer is described as originating from an organ, such as the colon, and then spreading to other parts of the body.

  1. Digestive system

Medical terms

  • Liver cancer is a life-threatening disease and one of the fastest growing cancers in the United States. There are two types of liver cancer: primary and secondary. The primary cancer starts in your liver. Secondary cancer spreads to your liver from another part of your body.

  • This article provides an overview of primary liver cancer.As with many types of cancer, there is more that healthcare providers can do  to treat liver cancer in the  early stages of the disease. Unlike many types of cancer, healthcare providers have a good idea of ​​what increases a person's risk of developing liver cancer. With this in mind, healthcare providers intend to identify who may be at higher risk so that primary liver cancer can be detected and treated as early as possible.

  • The liver continuously filters the blood circulating through the body and converts nutrients and drugs taken from the digestive tract into chemicals ready for use. The liver performs many other important functions, such as removing toxins and other chemical waste products from the blood and preparing them for elimination.Because all  blood in the body must flow through it, the liver is unusually accessible to cancer cells traveling through the bloodstream.

  • The liver can be affected by primary liver cancer that originates in the liver or by cancer that forms in other parts of the body and then spreads to the liver. Most liver cancers are secondary, or metastatic, meaning they started  in another part of the body. Primary liver cancer, which begins in the liver, accounts for about 2% of all cancers in the US., but up to half of all cancers in some underdeveloped countries.

  • This is mainly due to the prevalence of hepatitis, which is caused by contagious viruses and predisposes a person to liver cancer. In the United States, primary liver cancer affects twice as many men as women, with an average age of 67 years.Because the liver is made up of several different cell types, several types of tumors can form there. Some of these are benign (noncancerous) and some are cancerous and can spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. These tumors have different causes and are treated differently. Your chances of health or recovery depend on the type of tumor you have.

  • treatment with radiofrequency ablation Radiofrequency ablation is a procedure that treats liver cancer by sealing the blood vessels that feed the tumor The process which typically takes about an hour involves inserting a thin needle through a target area in your liver and delivering thermal energy to seal the blood vessel The goal of this treatment is to destroy the cells surrounding tumor while causing minimal damage to healthy tissue Because it causes no damage to surrounding tissues radiofrequency ablation is not invasive like traditional surgery It’s also effective at treating tumors embedded within large masses of fatty tissue For example if your liver contains multiple tumors but isn't.

  • symptoms Liver cancer symptoms can be difficult to detect They may vary considerably depending on type of liver cancer Common signs and symptoms include: * Unexplained abdominal pain * Unusual swelling in the abdomen or veins of the abdomen (ascites) * Unintentional weight loss or poor appetite.

Types Liver cancer

  1. Hepatocellular carcinoma

Symptoms Liver cancer

Liver cancer might not have any symptoms, or they could be arduous to spot.

The symptoms are similar if the liver disease starts within the liver (primary liver cancer) or spreads from another part of the body (secondary liver cancer).

Most people who have primary liver cancer don't experience signs or symptoms at an early stage. When signs or symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Losing weight without trying

  • Loss of appetite

  • Upper abdominal pain

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • General weakness and fatigue

  • Abdominal swelling

  • If you have a yellow skin color and white eyes (jaundice), you are sick.

  • White, chalky stools

The two most common types of liver cancer

are hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and cholangiocarcinoma.

are hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma. Hepatocellular carcinoma, or HCC, is the most common form of liver cancer. It affects both men and women equally, though it is more common among people between the ages of 50 to 70 years old. Unlike other cancers that start in other parts of the body and spread to the liver, HCC is directly caused by a tumor growing in your liver cells.

What are some signs of liver cancer?

Liver cancer can take a while to develop, so it is often not diagnosed until the late stages. Symptoms of liver cancer include:

  • Liver cancer generally doesn’t cause symptoms in its early stages, and many people are diagnosed with the disease only after it has spread to other parts of the body. Liver cancer is often found as a result of blood tests for other conditions. If you have any of these signs, see your doctor immediately.

  • The symptoms of liver cancer can vary greatly from person to person, depending on the type and stage of the disease. Some people with liver cancer may have no symptoms at all for many years, eventually leading to liver failure and an untimely death. For others, there are warning signs that a doctor can watch out for in order to diagnose liver cancer at its earliest stages. In addition to monitoring your body for any warning signs of health complications that could be related to liver cancer, you should.

When to see a doctor

If you experience any worrisome signs or symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor.

Causes Liver cancer

Liver cancer happens once one thing affects healthy liver cells’ polymers. DNA carries the genes that tell our cells the way to function. We have a tendency to all have genes that tell cells when to grow, multiply and die. For example, oncogenes facilitate cells to grow and divide. alternative genes, known as growth suppressor genes, monitor cell activity, keeping cells from multiplying uncontrollably and ensuring cells die when they’re imagined to die.

Once our DNA mutates or changes, our cells get new instructions. In HCC, DNA changes activate oncogenes and/or put off tumor suppressor genes. For example, studies show liver disease involving hepatitis B virus (HBV) and viral hepatitis virus (HCV) account for over half all HCC cases. Once these viruses infect liver cells, they modify cell DNA, turning healthy liver cells into cancerous cells.

Liver cancer happens when the cells in your liver start to change their DNA. This can happen because of mutations in the genetic material. These mutations cause changes in the instructions that control how cells work. This can lead to cells growing out of control and developing into cancer. Eventually, a tumor will form - this is a mass of cancerous cells.

Sometimes people can get liver cancer without any known causes. Sometimes liver cancer happens to people who have no underlying diseases - it's not clear what causes it.

Risk factors Liver cancer

There are some factors that increase the risk of developing primary liver cancer. These include:

  • Chronic infection with HBV or HCV.Chronic hepatitis B or C infection increases your risk of developing liver cancer.

  • Cirrhosis.This condition causes scar tissue to form in your liver, which increases your risk of developing liver cancer.

  • Certain inherited liver diseases.Some liver diseases can increase the risk of liver cancer, including hemochromatosis and Wilson's disease.

  • Diabetes.People with diabetes have a greater risk of developing liver cancer than people who do not have diabetes.

  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.A buildup of fat in the liver increases the risk of liver cancer.

  • Exposure to aflatoxins.Molds that grow on crops can produce poisons called aflatoxins. These toxins can be found in foods made from grains and nuts, if the products are stored improperly.

  • Excessive alcohol consumption.Consuming more than a moderate amount of alcohol daily can lead to irreversible liver damage and increase your risk of developing liver cancer.

Prevention Liver cancer

Reduce your risk of cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is scarring of the liver and it increases the risk of liver cancer. You can lower your risk of cirrhosis by following these tips:

  • Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation. For women, this means drinking no more than one drink a day. For men, this means drinking no more than two drinks a day.

  • Maintain a healthy weight. If your current weight is healthy, you should try to maintain it by eating a healthy diet and exercising most days. If you need to lose weight, you should reduce the number of calories you eat each day and increase the amount of exercise you do. You should aim to lose weight slowly – 1 or 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kilogram) at a time. A person should exercise (exercise) for at least (amount of) kilograms each week.

Get vaccinated against hepatitis B

You can reduce your risk of getting hepatitis B by getting a vaccine. The vaccine can be given to almost anyone, including infants, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.

Take measures to prevent hepatitis C

There is no vaccine for hepatitis C, but you can reduce your risk of infection by following some precautions.

  • Be aware of the health status of any sexual partners.If you're not sure your partner is infected with HBV HCV or any other STD, do not have unprotected sex. Use a condom every time you have sexual intercourse.

  • Don't use intravenous (IV) drugs if you can help it, but if you do need to use a clean needle, do so. To reduce your risk of hepatitis C, don't inject illegal drugs. But if that's not an option for you, make sure any needle you use is sterile and don't share it. Contaminated drug paraphernalia (such as needles) is a common cause of hepatitis C infection. Use community needle-exchange programs to minimize your exposure to this disease. If you need help with your drug use, please consider seeking help from a professional.

  • When getting a piercing or tattoo, be sure to look for safe, clean shops. Make sure that the needles you are using are properly sterilized. If you are getting a piercing or tattoo, ask the shop staff about their safety practices first. If they do not answer your questions seriously, then you may want to look for a different shop. This means that the facility is not right for you.

If you have hepatitis B or C, seek treatment.

There are treatments available for hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections. Studies have shown that treatment can reduce the risk of liver cancer.

Talk to your doctor about liver cancer screening.

There is no proof that general population screening for liver cancer will reduce the risk of dying from liver cancer, and it is not generally recommended for people with conditions that increase the risk of this disease. Some people who are at high risk for liver cancer might choose to screen themselves, but it is not recommended for the general population as a whole.

  • Hepatitis B infection

  • Hepatitis C infection

  • Liver cirrhosis

Talk with your doctor about the pros and cons of screening for cancer. You can decide whether screening is right for you based on your risk. Screening typically involves a blood test and an abdominal ultrasound exam every six months.

Is liver cancer curable in the last stage?

Liver cancer is curable in the early stages and it has a high survival rate but becomes increasingly difficult to treat as it advances Treatments for liver cancer are designed to slow down or stop the growth of the cancer cells without damaging healthy cells Most treatments involve surgery and/or therapies that kill or restrict the growth of tumor cells Surgery may be used for large tumors that can be surgically removed without damaging vital organs It also may be used along with other therapies such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy if doctors see evidence of remaining disease after initial treatment.

How serious is a tumor on the liver?

A tumor on the liver is a life-threatening condition that can lead to liver failure The symptoms of liver cancer include weight loss and swelling in the abdomen fatigue and jaundice If you are experiencing these symptoms see your doctor as soon as possible for an examination.

Is liver cancer treatable if caught early?

While liver cancer has the lowest survival rate among all cancers there are some steps to take that can help improve your chances of overcoming this illness. When caught early it is often treatable and curable. If you have any symptoms of liver cancer such as a firm abdominal mass or pain in your abdomen contact your doctor immediately.

Can you live without a liver?

Yes a person can live without a liver The most severe case is that of someone who has had their liver removed for liver cancer or as part of an organ transplant (see #2) Most people however have a condition where only part of their liver is functionally impaired These people are generally much healthier than those with complete liver failure and they often do not need to take medications to sustain the rest of their body Liver disease can be treated in many different ways such as through a surgical procedure medication or dietary changes For example.

Can the liver heal itself?

The liver is one of our body’s most resilient organs It can repair itself from damage caused by illness injury or even toxins in the environment However chronic alcohol abuse and obesity overload this organ to the point it can no longer heal itself As a result severe scarring or cirrhosis develops which leads to impaired function and even death.

Which vitamins are good for the liver?

Vitamins are important for maintaining health and vitality but some are more important than others The liver is a vital organ because it detoxifies the blood and flushes out toxins from the body Vitamins E C and A can aid in cleansing and detoxification of the liver Other nutrients that support liver function include omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil supplements glutathione green tea extract and alpha lipoic acid.

liver cancer survival rate

  • According to the American Cancer Society, there are approximately 74,000 new cases of liver cancer diagnosed and approximately 33,000 deaths from the disease each year in the United States. The five-year survival rate for people with liver cancer is only about 20 percent.
  • Liver cancer survival rate is a measure of the probability that an individual diagnosed with liver cancer will be alive at a certain time after their diagnosis. The number of years after diagnosis and treatment used to calculate survival statistics varies, but the general range is five years or longer. Liver cancer survival rates are usually presented with additional information about the specific type of liver cancer, such as stage and grade; age, gender, race and other characteristics of the patient; and treatment details.
  • Liver cancer survival rate is not as high as other cancers. For example, the one-year survival rate for colorectal cancer is about 90 percent, while that of liver cancer is only about 16 percent. This poor survival rate may be due to late diagnosis and lack of awareness with regard to symptoms and risk factors. Some people do not realize they have been infected with hepatitis B or C until they develop liver damage years later. Liver cancer can also be hard to detect.

Diagnosis Liver cancer

While there is no cure for liver cancer, treatment options and strategies are available that can be effective in treating the condition. The goal of treatment is to decrease the size of the tumor and improve symptoms, so that a person may have an improved quality of life. Treatment options include:

  • Liver cancer prognosis is often difficult to predict. The condition can be difficult to diagnose in the early stages and if it has not been diagnosed until it has spread through the body, then it becomes even more likely that treatments will be unsuccessful. If a patient has been diagnosed with liver cancer, they may want to seek out support from a team of medical professionals who can help them make decisions about their treatment options.

To diagnose liver cancer, your doctor can begin by asking you concerning your medical record and conducting a physical exam. ensure to inform your doctor if you've got a history of long, significant alcohol use or a long-term hepatitis B or C infection.

Diagnosing liver cancer

Tests and procedures used to diagnose liver cancer may include:

  1. Liver function test

  • Blood tests.Tests that measure liver function may show abnormalities.

  • Imaging tests.Your doctor may recommend imaging tests such as an ultrasound CT and MRI. These tests can help diagnose problems.

  • To take a sample of liver tissue for testing, you will need to remove a piece of liver.Sometimes it is necessary to remove a piece of liver tissue for laboratory testing in order to determine with certainty if someone has liver cancer.
    Your doctor will insert a thin needle through your skin and into your liver to collect a tissue sample. In the lab, doctors will look at the tissue under a microscope for signs of cancer. A liver biopsy carries a risk of bleeding, bruising, and infection.

How serious the liver cancer is

If you are diagnosed with liver cancer, your doctor will perform staging tests to determine the extent (stage) of the cancer. Tests that help determine the size and location of the cancer as well as whether it has spread include CTs, MRIs, and bone scans.

There are different ways to classify liver cancer. For example, one system uses Roman numerals I through IV, and another uses letters A through D. Your doctor will use your cancer's stage to determine your treatment options and your prognosis.

Treatment Liver cancer

Healthcare suppliers have many common treatments for HCC and IHC, as well as surgery to get rid of a part of your liver, liver transplantation and liver-directed treatments like viscus blood vessel embolization and ablation. They will conjointly use several styles of chemotherapy, chemoembolization, radiation therapy, radioembolization, therapy and targeted therapy.

The treatments for primary liver cancer depend on the extent (stage) of the disease as well as your age, overall health, and personal preferences.


Treatment for liver cancer includes various operations.

  • Surgery to remove the tumor.If your doctor thinks you may have liver cancer, he or she may recommend surgery to remove the tumor and a small amount of healthy tissue around it if the tumor is small and your liver is functioning well.
    There are several factors involved in whether or not surgery is an option for you, including the location of your cancer within the liver and how well your liver functions. Additionally, your health status may affect this decision.

  • Liver transplant surgery.Liver transplant surgery is an option for people with early-stage liver cancer. Your diseased liver is removed and replaced with a healthy liver from a donor. Liver transplant surgery is only for a small percentage of people.

Localized treatments

Treatment for liver cancer can be localized to the cancer cells or the area surrounding the cancer cells. Localized treatments for liver cancer include:

  • Heating cancer cells. Radiofrequency ablation uses electric current to heat and destroy cancer cells. The doctor makes small incisions in your abdomen, then uses an imaging test such as ultrasound to guide the needles into the tumor. When the needles reach the tumor, they're heated with electric current. Cancer cells will be destroyed by the procedure. Other procedures might use microwaves or lasers to heat the cancer cells.

  • Freezing cancer cells.Cryotherapy uses extreme cold to destroy cancer cells. During the procedure your doctor places an instrument (cryoprobe) on top of liver tumors that contains liquid nitrogen. Ultrasound images are used to guide the cryoprobe and monitor the freezing of the cells.

  • Injecting alcohol into the tumor.Alcohol is injected directly into tumors in order to kill the cells. Alcohol causes the cells to die.

  • Chemotherapy drugs are injected into the liver.Chemotherapy treatments that supply strong anti-cancer drugs to the liver are called "embolization."

  • Putting radioactive beads in the liver.Radiation spheres that are small in size and contain radiation may be placed directly in the liver where they can deliver radiation to the tumor.

Radiation therapy

This treatment uses powerful energy from sources such as X-rays and protons to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors. Doctors carefully direct the energy to the tumor while sparing surrounding healthy tissue.

Radiation therapy may be an option if other treatments haven't worked or if they are not possible for some reason. For advanced liver cancer, radiation therapy might help to control symptoms.

During radiation therapy, you are lying on a table and a machine directs energy beams at a specific point on your body.

Stereotactic body radiotherapy involves directing many beams of radiation at one point in your body.

Targeted drug therapy

Targeted drug treatments focus on specific abnormalities within cancer cells. When these abnormalities are blocked, targeted drug treatments can cause cancer cells to die.

There are many drugs available to treat advanced liver cancer.

Some targeted therapies work best on people with cancer cells that have a certain genetic mutation. Your cancer cells may be tested in a laboratory to see if these drugs might help you.


Immunotherapy uses your immune system to fight cancer. If your body's immune system can't see the cancer cells, then the cancer cells can't be attacked. Immunotherapy works by interfering with the process that makes the cancer cells invisible to the immune system.

Immunotherapy is generally used for people with advanced liver cancer.


Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy quickly growing cells, including cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be given in pill form or through a vein in your arm.

Chemotherapy is used to treat advanced liver cancer.

Supportive (palliative) care

Palliative care is specialized medical care that helps relieve symptoms of a serious illness. Specialists who provide palliative care work with your family and other doctors to provide extra support. Palliative care can be helpful in providing relief from pain and other symptoms. Olive oil may be used while undergoing other aggressive treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.

Using palliative care in combination with other appropriate treatments may make people with cancer feel better and live longer.

Palliative care is a team of doctors, nurses, and other professionals who aim to improve the quality of life for people with cancer and their families. This form of care is offered alongside treatments that may be given in an effort to cure or control the disease.

More Information

Alternative medicine

Treatment options may help control pain in people with advanced liver cancer. Your doctor may use treatments and medications to control your pain. But sometimes pain may persist, or you may want to avoid the side effects of pain medications.

Talk to your doctor about other treatments that may help you cope with pain, such as:

  • Acupressure

  • Acupuncture

  • Hypnosis

  • Massage

  • Relaxation techniques

Coping and support

When you find out you have liver cancer, it can be devastating. Everyone reacts differently to this news, but here are some ideas to help you cope:

  • Be aware of liver cancer so that you can make informed decisions about your care.Talk to your doctor about liver cancer. You'll learn about the stage of your cancer and available treatment options. If you like your prognosis, that's great!

  • Keep friends and family close.Having strong relationships will help you deal with liver cancer. Friends and family can provide practical support, such as taking care of your house if you're in the hospital. They can also provide emotional support when you feel overwhelmed by cancer.

  • Find someone to talk with.Find someone with whom you can talk about your feelings. This could be a friend or family member. Support from a counselor, medical social worker, clergy member, or cancer survivors group can be helpful.
    Talk to your doctor about support groups in your area. You can also check your phone book or a cancer organization such as the National Cancer Institute or the American Cancer Society.

  • Make plans for the unknown.Cancer requires you to be prepared for the possibility of death. For some people, having a strong faith or feeling that there is something greater than themselves helps them to accept their illness.
    Talk to your doctor about advance directives and living wills so you are prepared should you need end-of-life care.

Preparing for your appointment

If you think you may have liver cancer, you're likely to see your family doctor. If your doctor suspects you may have liver cancer, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in diseases of the liver (hepatologist) or a doctor who specializes in treating cancer (oncologist).

Because appointments are short and because there is a lot to cover, it is a good idea to be well-prepared. Here is some information about what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

  • Be aware of any prior appointments that you may need to respect.Make sure to ask if there are any requirements you must follow before your appointment, such as eating a limited diet.

  • Keep a list of any symptoms you are experiencing.Make sure to bring any materials that may seem unrelated to the reason for your appointment.

  • Write down key personal information,It is best to do this project after any major stresses or changes in life.

  • Make a list of all medications,Make sure to tell your doctor about any vitamins or supplements you're taking.

  • It's a good idea to have someone else along when you do this.Someone who accompanies you to an appointment can help you remember what was discussed. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember everything, so someone who is with you can help.

  • Write down questions to ask. your doctor.

Your time with your doctor is limited, so it is important to prepare questions ahead of time. List the questions that are most important to you and leave the less important questions for later. Some basic questions to ask your doctor about liver cancer may include:

  • What type of liver cancer do I have?

  • What is the stage of my liver cancer?

  • What is the diagnosis in my case? Can I see a copy of the diagnosis?

  • Will I need more tests?

  • What are my treatment options?

  • What are the possible side effects of each treatment?

  • Which treatment do you think is best?

  • How will my treatment affect my daily life?

  • How long will it take me to make a decision about liver cancer treatment?

  • Should I seek a second opinion?

  • Should I see a liver cancer specialist? How much will the visit cost, and will my insurance cover it?

  • Can I take printed materials with me? What websites do you think I should visit?

Do not hesitate to ask additional questions during your appointment. You can also prepare questions to ask your doctor.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor may want to ask you a few questions. Being prepared to answer them may allow more time to cover other points you want to address later. Your doctor may ask:

  • When did you first start having problems?

  • Has your illness been continuous or occasional?

  • How severe are your symptoms?

  • What are some things that might help improve your symptoms?

  • If anything seems to make your symptoms worse, what should I do?

General summary

  1. Most tumors of the liver can be treated with surgery whether to remove the tumor or part of the liver Liver cancers that cannot be removed are usually treated with chemotherapy Additional treatment may include radiation therapy and/or an injection directly into the tumor of a potent cancer-killing drug called doxorubicin (Adriamycin) For some patients a liver transplant is needed.

  2. If it has not spread beyond the liver, cancer of the liver may be treated by surgery. A surgeon can remove the tumor during an operation and then carry out a follow-up procedure to remove any remaining cancer cells. If part of the liver is replaced during surgery to remove a tumor, plastic surgeons can use part of tissue from another area in your body (skin, muscle or bone) to reconstruct or repair your liver.

  3. Cancer of the liver is called hepatocellular carcinoma. It is the most common form of primary cancer in the organ. Its prevalence varies according to geographical region and ethnicity. According to National Cancer Institute estimates, between 8,000 and 10,000 new cases of liver cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States.

  4. Cancer of the liver is treatable if detected early. To treat cancer, doctors first remove the tumor and then do any required chemotherapy or radiation therapy. If you are diagnosed with cancer of the liver, tell your doctor if you have ever had a disease that causes blood vessels to swell (Vasculitis). This will be important information for your doctor in deciding on your treatment options.

Liver cancer : Causes-Symptoms-Diagnosis-Treatment

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