When a cancerous tumour develops in the cells of the liver, it leads to liver cancer. Primary liver cancer originates within the liver itself. A tumour in the liver which has originated elsewhere in the body is known as secondary or liver metastases. Liver cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer worldwide, accounting for about half of all the cancer cases. However, the disease is less common in the developed countries.
All those who suffer from liver cancer may show symptoms mentioned below:
- Weight loss
- Bloated stomach due to accumulation of fluid
- Pain in the upper right side of the abdomen
- The skin and the white part in the eyes may turn yellowish
The various causes of liver cancer are:
- Intake of food contaminated by carcinogens.
- In the developing countries, the possible reason of liver cancer is linked with hepatitis B and C viruses. These viruses are responsible for the same for seven out of 10 cases.
- People who suffer from haemochromatosis, a condition in which iron builds up in the liver, are also at a high risk of developing liver cancer.
People suffering from cirrhosis have greater chances of being detected of liver cancer from the symptoms mentioned above. You may be asked to undergo few tests and examinations for a better diagnosis. Blood tests are required to look for signs of cancer and to assess the functioning of the liver. Imaging tests like ultrasound scans or MRI may be performed to confirm the diagnosis. You may also have to undergo liver biopsy wherein a piece of tissue is removed and tested for cancer cells.
The treatment for liver cancer depends on various other factors like your general health and the stage of the cancer. If the cancer is in its initial stage, and if there are no other health related complications, the tumour can be removed with the help of a surgery or you can even go for liver transplant. In other cases, you may be given chemotherapy or other localised treatments to reduce the size of the tumour. One of them is chemoembolization in which the blood supply to the tumour is blocked to shrink it eventually.
Most of the times, the cancer is in its advanced stage by the time it is diagnosed. Even patients who undergo surgery to remove the tumour or who go for a liver transplant, rarely survive for longer than five years after the treatment.