Liver cancer is the condition characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells in the liver. Hepatocellular carcinoma is a common liver cancer that initiates in hepatocytes.
What Are The Types Of Liver Cancer?
Liver cancer is broadly divided into two main types:
Primary liver cancer: Primary liver cancer is cancer that starts within the liver. The most common primary liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma. Primary liver cancer is found in those people who are at significant risk of developing this cancer such as patients of hepatitis or cirrhosis.
Secondary liver cancer: Secondary liver cancer is cancer that spread to the liver from another organ through the bloodstream. This condition is also known as liver metastasis.
What Are The Symptoms Of Liver Cancer?
The time of occurrence of symptoms primary and secondary liver cancer varies. While symptoms of primary liver cancer are experienced at an early stage, the secondary liver cancer is not detected until a considerable part of the liver is under attack by cancerous cells. Following are some of the symptoms of liver cancer:
- Abdominal pain
- Lump in the upper right abdominal region
- Weight loss
- Shortness of breath
- Itchy skin
- Loss of appetite
What Are The Risk Factors For Liver Cancer?
Following factors increases the risk of liver cancer:
- Cirrhosis:This is a progressive condition. The scar tissues are formed in the liver and increase the chances of liver cancer.
- Hepatitis infection: Chronic liver infection with HCV and HBV are the most common risk factor for developing liver cancer. These infections lead to liver cirrhosis.
- Diabetes:Type 2 diabetes, in combination with other risk factors, increases the risk of liver cancer.
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: Nonalcoholic liver disease may progress to cause cirrhosis which is a risk factor for liver cancer.
- Inherited liver disease: Liver diseases such as Wilson’s disease increases the risk of liver cancer.
- Gender: Males are more prone to develop hepatocellular carcinoma as compared to female.
- Alcohol and tobacco use: Drinking too much alcohol and smoking increases the risk of liver cancer.
- Exposure to Aflatoxins: Exposure to aflatoxins, which are cancer-causing substances, increases risk of liver cancer.
How The Diagnosis Of Liver Cancer Is Done?
Following are some of the tests that are performed to diagnose liver cancer:
- Physical examination: Physical examination is done to evaluate the signs and symptoms and also the presence of possible risk factors that may cause liver cancer.
- Imaging technique: Various imaging tests such as MRI, CT scan, Bone scan, and ultrasound are performed to diagnose liver cancer.
- Blood tests: Blood tests such as Liver functions tests, Alpha-Fetoprotein test, viral hepatitis test, and Blood clotting test is done to analyze any abnormality.
- Biopsy: Biopsy such as needle biopsy, surgical biopsy or laparoscopic biopsy is done to confirm liver cancer.
What Is The Treatment Of Liver Cancer?
The treatment of liver cancer is done according to the stage of diagnosis. More advanced stages require a more aggressive treatment strategy. Following are some of the treatment options for liver cancer:
- Chemotherapy including Systemic chemotherapy, Hepatic arterial infusion (HAI) and Chemoembolization,
- Targeted therapy with drugs such as bevacizumab and erlotinib for metastatic cancer,
- Surgical removal of the tumor,
- Ablation therapy including cryotherapy, radiofrequency ablation, and Percutaneous ethanol injection
- Radiation therapy including Stereotactic body radiation therapy and Radioembolization
- Liver transplantation
What Is The Prognosis For Liver Cancer?
Prognosis of liver cancer depends upon the stage. If the liver cancer has spread to nearby organs, the prognosis is poor. However, with the advanced diagnostic techniques, the cancer is detected at an early stage. With the advanced treatment like liver transplant, the survival rate of the patient has been increased.