Disorders and DiseasesOncology

Liver Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

What is Liver Cancer? Meaning, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Prevention, Complications and Treatment of Liver Cancer...

What is Liver Cancer?

Liver cancer is cancer that develops in the liver. The liver is the largest glandular organ in the body and performs various important functions to keep the body free of toxins and harmful substances.

It’s situated in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen, right below the ribs. The liver is responsible for producing bile, a substance that helps in digest fats, vitamins, and other nutrients.

This vital organ also stores nutrients like glucose, so that you remain nourished at times when you’re not eating.

It also destroys medications and toxins. When cancer occurs in the liver, it destroys liver cells and interferes with the ability of the liver to function normally.

Liver cancer is typically classified as primary or secondary. Primary liver cancer occurs in the cells of the liver itself while Secondary liver cancer develops when cancer cells from another organ spread to the liver.

Unlike other cells in the body, cancer cells may break away from the primary site, or where cancer began, and then the cells travel to other areas of the body through the bloodstream or the lymphatic system. Cancer cells eventually collect by another body organ and begin to grow there.

Cancer is a fatal disease which can occur in a person at any point in his life due to the abnormal growth of cells. Liver cancer is one of such type of cancer which occurs due to the occurrence of tumors in the liver.

Liver Cancer, Liver Disease, Liver, Medisease

Depending on its nature and as listed above liver cancer can be broadly classified into two types:

Hepatocellular Carcinoma – In this type, cancer-causing cells originate in the liver.

Metastatic Cancer- In this type of liver cancer, the cancerous cells originate in some other parts of the body and then spread to the liver.

With the proper diagnosis of liver cancer at the right time, followed by the targeted treatment and cure, liver cancer can be managed efficiently.


Symptoms of Liver Cancer

The symptoms of Liver cancer may not be visible in a person until the advanced stage of cancer is reached. Therefore, one should be very careful.

Listed below are few of the symptoms:

  • Enlargement of liver
  • Abdominal pain
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Bruising or bleeding easily
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • White, chalky stools

These symptoms can be noticed even in people who do not have cancer. Still, for precaution, one should consult the doctor to be sure.


Causes of Liver Cancer

Though the exact reason for liver cancer is not very clear, listed below are some of the reasons for liver cancer development in a person:

  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • High consumption of arsenic
  • Excessive smoking
  • Low immunity
  • Obesity
  • Long-term exposure to Aflatoxins

Diagnosis of Liver Cancer

Those who notice any of the above-listed liver cancer symptoms should consult the doctor immediately, Doctor may further ask them to perform the following tests in order to diagnose cancer efficiently.

Blood tests

The blood tests for Liver Cancer include examination for blood clotting and the measure and proportions of red blood cells (RBC) and white blood cells (WBC) in a person’s body.

Tests for hepatitis

In this test, the presences of hepatitis B or C are examined.

Imaging Test

Tests like Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or Computerized Tomography scan (CT Scan) are used to check for the nature and occurrence of cancerous cells in the liver.

Biopsy

In this test, a sample of cancer-causing tissues are removed from the body and examined under a microscope to understand their growth rate properly.

Laparoscopy

To examine the liver and its surrounding areas, a tube-like instrument is inserted in a person’s body by surgery.


Prevention of Liver Cancer

In order to prevent liver cancer and save yourself from its worse effects, the following precautions should be taken:

Reduce alcohol consumption

Alcohol is the topmost enemy of the liver and causes various problems such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, inflammation, etc. Therefore, people should try their best to reduce the intake of alcohol in order to keep their liver healthy for a long time.

Maintain a normal body weight

Obesity can be one of the important reasons for liver cancer. A normal Body Mass Index (BMI) must be maintained by everyone to minimize the risk of liver diseases.

Take measures to prevent hepatitis

Vaccines and drugs should be taken in order to prevent hepatitis, that can be one of the major causes of liver cancer.

Prevent intravenous drugs

Infected syringes; drugs can make a person more prone to liver diseases such as hepatitis-C. So, one should try to stay away from intravenous drugs as much as possible.

Thus, it can be right to say that if a person follows the above-mentioned precautions, they can surely help themselves from this type of disease.


Complications with Liver Cancer

Few of the liver cancer complications that can occur after treatment are:

  • Hair loss
  • Tiredness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever (high temperature)
  • Nausea (As a side effect of painkillers)
  • Constipation (As a side effect of painkillers)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mouth sores

Treatment of Liver Cancer

There are several types of research going on to find the best treatment to treat liver cancer. However, the few main treatments for liver cancer until now are:

Liver Transplant

Patients who have a tumor of size less than 5 cm can prefer for liver transplants. In this treatment, a part of a healthy person’s liver is put on the liver of a cancer patient or replacing the entire diseased liver with a healthy liver from a most suitable donor.

Partial Hepatectomy

In this treatment, the part of the liver which has the tumor is removed by surgery. However, it is only possible when the tumor is present in a very small area.

Chemotherapy

In this treatment, drugs or medicines are given to the patient orally or through blood to retard the growth of cancerous cells in the body.

Ablation

Ablation treatment involves the use of heat or ethanol injections to destroy the cancer cells. It’s performed by local anesthesia. This treatment is helpful id patient is not eligible for surgery.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy involves the use of high energy radiation beams to destroy cancer cells. It can be given by external beam radiation or by internal radiation.

Targeted Therapy

This involves the use of drugs that are developed to hit cancer cells where they’re vulnerable. They reduce tumor growth and help stop the blood supply to the tumor. Sorafenib (Nexavar) is the example for this treatment.

Embolization & Chemoembolization

It is a surgical procedure performed to block off the hepatic artery. The surgeon will use small sponges or other particles to do this. This decrease the amount of blood flowing to the tumor. In this treatment, Doctor injects chemotherapy drugs into the hepatic artery before the particles are injected.


Who Is at Risk for Liver Cancer?

  • People over the age of 50
  • People who have a long-term hepatitis B or C infection
  • One who drink excessive alcohol
  • People who have exposure to Aflatoxins
  • Diabetic patients
  • Overweight or obese people


What Are the Different Types of Primary Liver Cancer?

Primary liver cancer can start with a single lump growing in the liver, or it can start in multiple places within the liver at the same time.

The main types of primary liver cancer are:

Hepatocellular carcinoma

It is also known as hepatoma, is the most common type of liver cancer, accounting for 75% of all liver cancers.

This type of condition develops in the hepatocytes, which are the predominant liver cells. It can spread from the liver to other organs or parts of the body, including pancreas, intestines, and stomach. It mostly occurs in people who have severe liver damage due to alcohol abuse.

Cholangiocarcinoma

It is known as bile duct cancer, develops in the small, tube-like bile ducts of the liver. These ducts carry bile to the gallbladder to help in the digestion. Bile duct cancer accounts for approximately 10 to 20% of all liver cancers.

Liver Angiosarcoma

Liver angiosarcoma is a very rare form of liver cancer that begins in the blood vessels of the liver. This type of liver cancer tends to progress very quickly, so it’s typically diagnosed at a more advanced stage.

Hepatoblastoma

It is an extremely rare type of liver cancer. It’s nearly always found in children, especially those under age three.


Homemade Remedies for Liver Cancer

Some of the best remedies to prevent and cure liver cancer are given below:

Green Tea

Green tea contains oxidants which help in preventing cancer by slowing down the rate of growth of tumors.

Cumin

Cumin is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and proteins. It helps in reducing the damage caused to tissues.

Ginger   – Read Benefits of Ginger In-depth

Ginger promotes the growth of healthy liver cells. It is one of the best remedies for the treatment of liver cancer.

Exercise

Daily exercises can help in controlling weight, which in turn reduces the risk of obesity which may be one of the causes of liver cancer.


Facts about Liver Cancer

  • Liver cancer disease is most common in countries located in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.The five-year
  • The survival rate for people with localized cancer is 31 Percent.
  • Liver cancer is a major cause of cancer deaths worldwide.

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