Liver Cancer

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What is liver cancer?

Liver cancer is cancer that occurs in the liver. The liver is the largest glandular organ in the body and performs assorted critical functions to keep the body free of toxins and harmful substances. The liver is located in the good upper berth quadrant of the abdomen, right below the rib. It ’ s creditworthy for producing bile, which is a substance that helps you digest fats, vitamins, and other nutrients. This critical organ besides stores nutrients such as glucose, so that you remain nutrify at times when you ’ re not eating. It besides breaks down medications and toxins. When cancer develops in the liver, it destroys liver cells and interferes with the ability of the liver to function normally. Liver cancer is broadly classified as primary or secondary. primary liver cancer begins in the cells of the liver. secondary liver cancer develops when cancer cells from another organ spread to the liver. Unlike early cells in the soundbox, cancer cells can break away from the primary coil web site, or where the cancer began. The cells travel to other areas of the body through the bloodstream or the lymphatic system. Cancer cells finally collect in another body organ and begin to grow there. This article focuses on primary liver cancer. If you had cancer in another organ before you developed liver cancer, please see our article about liver metastasis to learn more about secondary coil liver cancer .

What are the different types of primary liver cancer?

The different types of primary liver cancer originate from the assorted cells that make up the liver. chief liver cancer can start as a one collocate growing in the liver, or it can start in many places within the liver-colored at the same time. People with severe liver damage are more likely to have multiple cancer growth sites. The chief types of primary liver cancer are :

Hepatocellular carcinoma

Hepatocellular carcinoma ( HCC ), besides known as hepatoma, is the most common type of liver cancer, accounting for 75 percentage of all liver-colored cancers. This stipulate develops in the hepatocytes, which are the prevailing liver cells. It can spread from the liver to other parts of the body, such as the pancreas, intestines, and digest. HCC is much more likely to occur in people who have severe liver price due to alcohol pervert .


Cholangiocarcinoma, more normally known as bile duct cancer, develops in the little, tube-like bile ducts in the liver. These ducts carry bile to the gallbladder to help with digestion. When the cancer begins in the segment of the ducts inside the liver-colored, it ’ mho called intrahepatic bile duct cancer. When the cancer begins in the section of the ducts outside the liver-colored, it ’ s called extrahepatic bile duct cancer. Bile duct cancer accounts for approximately 10 to 20 percentage of all liver cancers .

Liver angiosarcoma

Liver angiosarcoma is a rare imprint of liver cancer that begins in the blood vessels of the liver. This type of cancer tends to progress very cursorily, so it ’ sulfur typically diagnosed at a more advance stagecoach .


Hepatoblastoma is an extremely rare type of liver cancer. It ’ s about always found in children, specially those under historic period 3. With surgery and chemotherapy, the lookout for people with this type of cancer can be very good. When hepatoblastoma is detected in the early stages, the survival rate is higher than 90 percentage.

What are the symptoms of liver cancer?

many people don ’ thymine feel symptoms in the early stages of basal liver cancer. When symptoms do appear, they may include :

  • abdominal discomfort, pain, and tenderness
  • yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, which is called jaundice
  • white, chalky stools
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • bruising or bleeding easily
  • weakness
  • fatigue

Who is at risk for liver cancer?

Doctors aren ’ thyroxine certain why some people get liver cancer while others don ’ metric ton. however, there are certain factors that are known to increase the gamble of developing liver cancer :

  • Liver cancer is more common in people over age 50.
  • A long-term hepatitis B or C infection can severely damage your liver. Hepatitis is spread from person-to-person through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, such as their blood or semen. It may also be passed from mother to child during childbirth. You can lower your risk for hepatitis B and C by using protection during sexual intercourse. There’s also a vaccine that can protect you against hepatitis B.
  • Having two or more alcoholic beverages every day over many years increases your risk for liver cancer.
  • Cirrhosis is a form of liver damage in which healthy tissue is replaced by scarred tissue. A scarred liver can’t function properly and may ultimately lead to numerous complications, including liver cancer. Long-term alcohol abuse and hepatitis C are the most common causes of cirrhosis in the United States. The majority of Americans with liver cancer have cirrhosis before they develop liver cancer.
  • Exposure to aflatoxin is a risk factor. Aflatoxin is a toxic substance produced by a type of mold that can grow on peanuts, grains, and corn. In the United States, food-handling laws limit widespread exposure to aflatoxin. Outside of the country, however, aflatoxin exposure can be high.
  • Diabetes and obesity are also risk factors. People with diabetes tend to be overweight or obese, which can cause liver problems and increase risk for liver cancer.

How is liver cancer diagnosed?

The diagnosis of liver-colored cancer begins with a medical history and a physical examen. Make certain to tell your doctor of the church if you have a history of long-run alcohol abuse or a chronic hepatitis B or C contagion. diagnostic tests and procedures for liver-colored cancer include the comply :

  • Liver function tests help your doctor determine the health of your liver by measuring levels of proteins, liver enzymes, and bilirubin in your blood.
  • The presence of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) in the blood can be a sign of liver cancer. This protein is usually only produced in the liver and yolk sac of babies before they’re born. AFP production normally stops after birth.
  • Abdominal CT or MRI scans produce detailed images of the liver and other organs in the abdomen. They can allow your doctor to pinpoint where a tumor is developing, determine its size, and assess whether it has spread to other organs.

Liver biopsy

Another diagnostic screen available is a liver biopsy. A liver biopsy involves removing a belittled piece of liver tissue. It ’ second always done using anesthesia to prevent you from feeling any pain during the procedure. In most cases, a acerate leaf biopsy is performed. During this procedure, your doctor will insert a thin needle through your abdomen and into your liver to obtain a weave sample. The sample is then examined under a microscope for signs of cancer. A liver-colored biopsy might besides be performed using a laparoscope, which is a flimsy, flexible pipe with an attach television camera. The camera allows your repair to see what the liver looks like and to perform a more precise biopsy.

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The laparoscope is inserted through a small incision in the abdomen. If weave samples from other organs are needed, your doctor of the church will make a larger incision. This is called a laparotomy. If liver cancer is found, your doctor will determine the degree of the cancer. Staging describes the badness or extent of the cancer. It can help your doctor determine your treatment options and your mentality. degree 4 is the most boost stage of liver cancer.

How is liver cancer treated?

treatment for liver cancer varies. It depends on :

  • the number, size, and location of the tumors in the liver
  • how well the liver is functioning
  • whether cirrhosis is present
  • whether the tumor has spread to other organs

Your specific treatment plan will be based on these factors. Liver cancer treatments may include the following :


A hepatectomy is performed to remove either a part of the liver or all of the liver. This surgery is normally done when the cancer is confined to the liver. Over prison term, the remaining healthy tissue will regrow and replace the missing part .

Liver transplant

A liver transplant involves replacing the stallion diseased liver-colored with a healthy liver from a suitable donor. A graft can only be done if the cancer hasn ’ t banquet to other organs. Medicines to prevent rejection are given after the transplant .


Ablation involves the practice of hotness or ethyl alcohol injections to destroy the cancer cells. It ’ mho performed using local anesthesia. This numbs the area to prevent you from feeling any annoyance. ablation can help people who aren ’ thyroxine candidates for operation or a transplant .


Chemotherapy is an aggressive form of drug therapy that destroys cancer cells. The medications are injected intravenously, or through a vein. In most cases, chemotherapy can be given as an outpatient discussion. chemotherapy can be effective in treating liver-colored cancer, but many people experience side effects during treatment, including vomit, decreased appetite, and chills. chemotherapy can besides increase your hazard of infection .

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy involves the use of high-energy radiation beams to kill cancer cells. It can be delivered by external beam radiation sickness or by internal radiation. In external beam radiation, the radiation is aimed at the abdomen and chest. Internal radiation involves the use of a catheter to inject bantam radioactive spheres into the liverwort artery. The radiation then destroys the hepatic artery, a rake vessel that supplies blood to the liver. This decreases the amount of blood flowing to the tumor. When the hepatic artery is closed murder, the portal vein vein continues to nourish the liver .

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy involves the use of medications that are designed to hit cancer cells where they ’ rhenium vulnerable. They decrease tumor emergence and help shut down blood issue to the tumor. Sorafenib ( Nexavar ) has been approved as target therapy for people with liver cancer. Targeted therapy can be helpful for people who aren ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate candidates for a hepatectomy or liver-colored transplant. Targeted therapy can, however, have significant side effects .

Embolization and chemoembolization

Embolization and chemoembolization are surgical procedures. They ’ re done to block off the liverwort artery. Your repair will use modest sponges or other particles to do this. This reduces the sum of blood flowing to the tumor. In chemoembolization, your doctor injects chemotherapy drugs into the hepatic artery before the particles are injected. The obstruction created keeps the chemotherapy medications in the liver for a longer menstruation.

How can liver cancer be prevented?

liver-colored cancer can ’ thyroxine constantly be prevented. however, you reduce your hazard for liver cancer by taking steps to prevent the development of conditions that can lead to liver cancer .

Get the hepatitis B vaccine

There ’ s a vaccine for hepatitis B that all children should receive. Adults who are at high risk for infection ( such as those who abuse intravenous drugs ) should besides be vaccinated. The vaccination is normally given in a series of three injections over a period of 6 months .

Take measures to prevent hepatitis C

There ’ s no vaccine for hepatitis C, but you can reduce your risk of getting the infection by doing the watch :

  • Use protection. Always practice safe sex by using a condom with all of your sexual partners. You should never engage in unprotected sex unless you’re certain your partner isn’t infected with hepatitis or any other sexually transmitted infection.
  • Don’t use illegal drugs. Avoid using illegal drugs, particularly those that can be injected, such as heroin or cocaine. If you’re unable to stop using drugs, make sure to use a sterile needle each time you inject them. Never share needles with other people.
  • Be cautious about tattoos and piercings. Go to a trustworthy shop whenever you get a piercing or tattoo. Ask employees about their safety practices and make sure they use sterile needles.

Reduce your risk of cirrhosis

You can lower your risk of cirrhosis by doing the following :

Only drink alcohol in moderation

Limiting the measure of alcohol you drink can help prevent liver damage. Women shouldn ’ t drink more than one swallow per day, and men shouldn ’ metric ton drink more than two drinks per day .

Maintain a healthy weight

Exercising for 30 minutes at least three times per week can help you maintain your burden. Eating a balance diet is besides important for weight management. Make sure you incorporate lean protein, whole grains, and vegetables or fruit into most of your meals. If you need to lose weight, increase the total of practice you do each day and reduce the number of calories you consume. You may besides want to consider meeting with a dietician. They can help you create a meal plan and exercise routine that give up you to achieve your burden loss goals more quickly.

Coping with liver cancer

A liver-colored cancer diagnosis can be consuming. It ’ south crucial to have a solid support network that can help you deal with any stress or anxiety you may be feeling.

You may want to see a counselor who can help you work through your emotions. You might besides want to consider joining a cancer support group where you can discuss your concerns with others who can relate to what you ’ re going through. Ask your doctor of the church about support groups in your area. You can besides find information on support groups on the National Cancer Institute and the american Cancer Society websites .

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