Liver cancer is the cancer formed in the cells of the liver. The most common one is hepatocellular carcinoma which starts in the main type of liver cells called hepatocyte. Hepatocellular carcinoma is mostly found in men and people age 50 or older. However, not all live cancers start in liver; it can begin in another area of the body and then spread to the liver and this type of cancer is known as metastic cancer.
The cause of liver cancer may come from the following factors:
Cirrhosis – scarring of liver that affect the way liver functions. Cirrhosis is caused by Hepatitis B or C infection, long term alcohol drinking and inherited diseases such as iron overload disorder (hemochromatosis).
Heavy alcohol consumption leading to cirrhosis and damage DNA in the liver cells.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease - fat building up in the liver which cause inflammation and damage.
Overweight and unhealthy diet– increasing the risk of developing liver cancer as it can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Signs and Symptoms
- upper abdominal pain
- unexplained weight loss
- appetite loss
- tiredness or weakness
- jaundice (yellowing of the skin or white area of eyes)
- light or white chalk-like stools
Screening and Diagnosis
Many tests are needed to confirm the cancer liver. Ultrasound scan, CT scan, MRI Scan can help the physician learn the exact location and the extent of cancer. A liver biopsy can also be performed to confirm the type of cancer and blood test which can assess your liver health and liver function.
Treatment options depend upon which stage of cancer the patients experience. Surgery seems to be a good option when cancer does not spread into another area of the body and the rest of the liver is still healthy. A liver transplant may also be suggested to remove the liver and replace it with a healthy one. In addition, Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) to kill cancerous cell can also be performed in patients with earlier stage.
For an advanced liver cancer, your specialist may recommend chemotherapy to slow the progression of cancer, control the symptoms and prolong life.