Liver Cancer

Liver Cancer pain

Overview of liver cancer

Liver diseases have become a major threat to healthy living in the recent years. They are more common in countries where health and hygiene conditions are not appropriate to maintain a standard of life. The most alarming liver disease in recent times is “liver cancer”, which affects millions all over the world. According to epidemiological studies by American Cancer Society conducted in the USA, 27,170 deaths were reported due to intrahepatic bile duct cancer in the year 2016. This has triggered the American Liver Foundation to organize health campaigns to educate the mass about the importance of a hygienic lifestyle and healthy dietary habits to prevent possibilities of liver diseases in the future. 

 

What is liver cancer?

Liver CancerLiver cancer refers to the condition in which abnormal cell growth occurs within the liver giving rise to tumors (solidified mass of cells and tissues) which may spread to different parts of the body. Two types of tumors are normally found in liver- benign tumor (harmless) and malignant tumor (causes cancer). Based on the reports compiled by American Liver Foundation, about 80% of liver cancer cases are reported due to Hepatocellular Carcinoma. Impairment of the normal functioning of the liver occurs in case of liver cancer that eventually leads to death.

 

What are the causes of liver cancer?

Liver cancer is an inevitable outcome of dietary, environmental and physiological factors. These are described below-

  • Chronic Hepatitis conditions: Infections mediated by Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C virus can cause liver cancer. These infections can spread via sexual interactions, blood transfusion, placental connection etc.
  • Liver cirrhosis: In this condition, the normal liver cells are severely damaged and are replaced by scar tissues. It predisposes the body to liver cancer.
  • Metabolic disorders: Few inherited metabolic diseases such as Hemochromatosis cause excess absorption of iron from the regular diet. The surplus iron then accumulates within the liver tissues, leading to liver damage and cancer.
  • Alcoholism: Excess intake of alcohol cause liver cirrhosis that slowly progresses to liver cancer in the future.
  • Obesity: In extreme cases of obesity, the patients develop liver cancer due to fatty liver disease and liver cirrhosis.
  • Tobacco: Excess intake of tobacco via active or passive smoking cause liver cirrhosis and cancer.
  • Medications: Few drugs such as anabolic steroids (mainly taken by athletes) can induce liver cancer.
  • Diabetes: Type 2 Diabetes combined with other pathological conditions such as obesity, alcohol abuse, and chronic hepatitis increases risks of liver cancer.
  • Parasitic infection: Infections caused by certain parasite species lead to schistosomiasis that eventually causes liver cancer.
  • Toxicity: Direct exposure to toxic agents such as Aflatoxins, Vinyl chloride, and Thorium dioxide, especially through contaminated food and fluids, directly impact the liver causing liver cancer.

 

What are the main warning signs?

Liver Cancer painLiver cancer symptoms are not very prominent in the initial stages and are often overlooked, increasing the risks of fatality. The following symptoms should be identified –

  • Pain in the upper right portion of the abdomen, towards the right shoulder blade
  • Spleen enlargement manifested as a mass below the rib on the left side of the body
  • Liver enlargement manifested as a mass below the rib on the right side of the body
  • Feeling of fullness even after short meals (taken after long intervals of time)
  • Gradual loss of appetite
  • Abnormal and accelerated weight loss
  • Yellowish discoloration of the skin and eyes (jaundice conditions)
  • Abnormal swelling of the abdomen due to the accumulation of excess fluid
  • Constant itching
  • Enlarged veins in the abdominal region which are prominent through the skin surface.
  • Unexplained bruising and bleeding (in the advanced stage)
  • Occasional fever

 

Types of liver cancer

Depending on the region of occurrence or origin, liver cancer is classified into two main types-

Primary cancer: Primary liver cancer is the type of cancer that originates in the liver itself. It has the following subtypes-

  • Hepatocellular carcinoma (hepatocellular cancer): Two types of tumors are observed in this condition. The first type appears as single tumors that grow in size and spread to other organs in the advanced stages only. The second type appears as clusters of small nodules and is commonly observed in liver cirrhosis conditions.
  • Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer): They account for 10-20% of all liver cancer cases. They originate within the cells that form the inner lining of small bile ducts.
  • Angiosarcoma and hemangiosarcoma: These originate in the cells lining the blood vessels of the liver. They arise mainly due to liver toxicity and spread quickly to other vital organs even before they are detected of diagnosed.
  • Hepatoblastoma: This type is mainly seen in children less than 4 years old. The affected cells, in this case, resemble the fetal liver cells.

Secondary cancer: This type of cancer originates at a place away from where it is found. It is also called metastatic cancer. Their primary site is the liver but they are found in the pancreas, stomach, breast, lung, and colon.

 

What are the possible clinical complications?

Several clinical complications are triggered by few liver tumors (malignant) which release hormones that act on other vital organs and cause-

  • Hypercalcemia (increase in blood calcium concentration) which causes nausea, constipation, and muscular weakness
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar level) which can cause extreme fatigue and dizziness
  • Gynecomastia ( enlargement of the breast) in women and constriction of testicles in men
  • Erythrocytosis (high red blood cell count) which gives a reddish and flushed appearance
  • Increase in blood cholesterol level

 

Important diagnostic tests

The following diagnostic tests are carried out to determine the degree of infection in liver cancer conditions-

  • Ultrasonography (to detect tumor growths in the liver)
  • CT scan (to detect tumor in other organs)
  • Angiography (to examine blood vessels of the liver)
  • MRI (to study the liver tissues)
  • Biopsy of liver

 

Treatment and prevention

Treatment 

Liver Cancer removalSurgery 

  • Surgery to remove the tumor – In this treatment method, the doctor will remove the tumor containing part of the liver along with some of the healthy cells surrounding it.
  • Liver transplant surgery – This treatment method is followed, when the liver has stopped functioning or if the tumor is too big to remove. Here the patient with the damaged liver is given a new liver by a donor.

Localized treatment 

  • Heating cancer cells – Here, the doctor will make an incision in the patients’ abdomen and insert one or more thin needles. Once the needles reach the liver electric current is passed into the tumor cells, thereby killing them. This treatment method is called radiofrequency ablation.
  • Freezing cancer cells – Here, the doctor places the tube cryoprobe directly onto the tumor and passes liquid nitrogen to freeze the tumor cells. This procedure is called cryoablation.
  • Injecting alcohol into the tumor – Pure alcohol is injected into the tumor cells, which kills the cancer cells
  • Injecting chemotherapy drugs into the tumor – This treatment method is called chemoembolization. Here, the chemotherapy drugs are directly injected into the liver.
  • Placing beads filled with radiation into the liver – Small beads containing radiation, are placed inside the liver to treat this condition.
  • Radiation therapy – In this treatment method, high energy beams are used to treat the cancer cells.
  • Target drug therapy – This treatment method is done by targeting the weak links in the cancer cells, thereby killing the cancer cells.

Supportive (palliative) care – This form of care is provided to patients who have been diagnosed with liver cancer. This treatment method helps in easing the signs and symptoms of cancer and the side effects of the treatment.

Prevention 

  • Drink alcohol in moderate amounts.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Maintain your weight according to your BMI.

TL;DR?

Liver cancer infographic

Facts

  • Liver cancer is estimated to kill more than 30,000 Americans each year.
  • Liver cancer is 2 times more common in men than in women.
  • Liver cancer is known as a silent disease, as there are almost no symptoms in the initial stages.

Facts

  • Liver cancer accounts for 5.7% of all cancers occurring globally.
  • In 2010, liver cancer was the 3rd most common cause of death after lung cancer and stomach cancer.

Facts

  • If cancer cells are present in any part of the body, they can find their way into the liver. This is because the liver filters blood from the rest of the body.

Related Conditions

Want to live a healthy lifestyle?

Subscribe to free FactDr newsletters.

REVAMP YOUR

If you're enjoying our website, we promise you'll absolutely love our new posts. Be the first one to get a copy!

Get factually correct, actionable tips delivered straight to your inbox once a week.

I want the latest scoop on :

We hate spam too. We will never share your email address with anyone. If you change your mind later, you can unsubscribe with just one click

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the FactDr Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of FactDr subscriptions at any time.

Display this infographic on your website

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Get 3 doses of the hepatitis B vaccination, as this can help reduce further liver complications and damage.
  • Maintain your weight and follow a healthy lifestyle, this helps in reducing the chances of liver diseases.
  • Consume a lot of dark green leafy vegetables, so that the body gets iron and calcium.
Don'ts
  • Consume alcohol, it is considered as a toxic substance for the liver.
  • Consume any fried, fatty, processed or refined food, as they tend to increase the bad cholesterol levels in your body and can lead to fatty liver.
  • Consume excess amounts of over-the-counter medications, as these can cause further liver complications and lose their effect on your body.

 

 

 

Related Conditions

Trending Topics

anal sex
Anal Sex : Tips from expert on how to be kinky yet safe Whether it irks you or stokes your fantasies, anal sex has always been an intriguing sexual act. Learn…
diverticulitis diet
Diverticulitis diet: The right way to eat if you suffer from the disease Are you suffering from diverticultis but clueless about your diet ? Read this complete plan for diverticulitis diet…
autoimmune diseases facts
Autoimmune Diseases: Find out if your body is attacking you right now Did you know your body can harm itself? What are autoimmune diseases and why does it harm some…
nature health benefits
Green Healing: The amazing health benefits of being in nature You have no idea what sitting in a closed room does to your body and mind.Can a stroll…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
understanding addiction
Addiction explained: An obsession that could cost you your life Is addiction a behavioral disorder? Or is it a chronic disease? How does addiction cause chemical and structural…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
liver detox facts
7 liver detox facts and why ignoring these could kill you! Are you taking care of this organ that handles over 500 different vital functions in your body? Your…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing is not only…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
GM Diet: The fastest way to lose weight or yet another hoax diet? General Motors started this trend of extreme dieting for 7 straight days to ensure its employees were able…
Creatine: Is this the right peak athletic-performance supplement for you? Creatine is the amino acid that boosts our energy. Did you know creatine supplements can help you reach…
yoga health benefits
How to practice yoga for astounding health benefits Can a 5000-year-old system be the ultimate body healer? Did you know yoga can make you smarter and…
Penis pump: Pump your way out of erectile dysfunction One of the options to treat erectile dysfunction is by the use of a penis pump. It is…
L-arginine: Your search for the ultimate fitness booster ends here L-arginine is an amino acid necessary for the body to perform various functions.  It is essential in producing…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
Pumpkin Seeds: Why pumpkins are more than just for pies! Pumpkins have been long associated with Halloween carvings and delicious pies. But did you know that pumpkin seeds…
How chlorophyll is more than just a green pigment meant for photosynthesis Cholorphyll - you must know the usual function of this chemical in plants. But did you know that…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
Improve sex life
9 best tips from around the world for better sex life How can the pungent-smelling garlic pack in a punch to your libido? How could something as slimy as…
low fodmap plan
Troubled with IBS? Here’s a complete roadmap to the low FODMAP diet Leaky & inflammatory gut troubling you? No medicine bringing you relief from the pain? Why not try the…
How can berberine supplements help you live longer and healthier? Berberine is a turmeric look-alike herbal extract that is credited with numerous health benefits ranging from diabetes cure…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling sad? Have you…
eating myths debunked
8 ‘healthy eating’ myths you believed until now Is a zero-carb diet really healthy for you? Are organic products worth their cost? Did you know how…
kefir bottle
Kefir: Top reasons why this probiotic drink should be consumed by you Yet another remarkable fermented food, kefir is a much healthier version of yogurt. These chewy white grains can…
Grapeseed Oil: Find out how to use this oil without any side-effects Grapes are known for their delicious fresh taste and the fact that they make wine a healthy drink.…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
ashwagandha brain
Ashwagandha: The best-kept secret of Ayurveda now revealed! Ashwagandha literally means "smell of horse". Don't get bogged down by that one tiny detail because this ayurveduic…
Agave nectar: The bitter truth about this sweetener revealed Agave nectar is considered to be sweeter than the normal table sugar and even contains higher amounts of…
hYdroxycut pills
Hydroxycut: How safe are these so-called weight loss supplements? Hydroxycut is a blend of several different ingredients formulated to promote weight loss; powered by a key weight…
Maltitol: Things you must know about this artificial sweetener Sugar alcohols are produced by fruits and vegetables. Maltitol is an artificially produced sugar alcohol and is used…
Chlorella: Therapeutic powers of the billion-year-old algae now within your reach Chlorella - A billion year old nutrient-rich algae that can potentially ward off cancers and high cholesterol; the…
Top 15 fat burning foods you need to start eating from today! Tired of going to gym everyday but seeing no change in your weight? Try these top fat burning…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
turmeric skin
We bet you didn’t know that turmeric could be this beneficial! Did you know that turmeric, a humble ingredient found in most Indian kitchens could cure countless ailments and…
tips for perfect sleep
Stop hitting the snooze button: 8 proven steps to perfect sleep Are you tired of not getting enough sleep? All your efforts for a sound sleep going in vain?…
Activated charcoal: The instant health benefits of this “diamond in the coal mine” How can the pitch black activated charcoal help you whiten your teeth? Or have a hangover-free sunday morning?…
Garlic health benefits cloves
Garlic: Nature’s white pill as an effective home remedy What are the secrets hidden in these tiny white pills? Find out the immense health benefits of using…
LDL cholesterol level
Lecithin: Learn how you can utilize this fatty acid to improve your cholesterol count Lecithin is primarily a fatty acid found in common foods such as soy and eggs. However, this fatty…
How cooking with CLA safflower oil can help you lose weight? Read and discover more about CLA safflower oil and how it can aid faster fat metabolism in people…
cancer facts
8 hard-hitting truths no one tells you about cancer Did you know that 1.5 million new cases of cancer are reported every year? Can second-hand smoking kill…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know some of the…
Hate making breakfast?Fast and healthy breakfast recipes just for you! Tired of snatching a bagel every morning for breakfast during the rush hour? Here are few fast and…
Bulletproof coffee recipe
Bulletproof Coffee – Breakfast of champions or yet another health fad? Can this special ketogenic coffee really make your body race as fast as a bullet?
paleo keto diet
Paleo vs. Keto: Which diet plan is best suited for your body goals? Is eating like a caveman the right way to go? Can you really eat fats to burn fats…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…
boost brain health
The ultimate tips on how to boost your brain health Would you like to be smarter? Want a sharp memory but bored of doing sudoku? Try salsa or…
Amaranth: Why is this native Peruvian grain called the “crop of the future”? Full of healthy high proteins and gluten-free, the grain, Amaranth, the tasty and ancient pseudo cereal from Peru,…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
MCT oil athletes
MCT Oil : The kind of fats you should be eating MCT oil or Medium Chain Triglycerides is the new buzzword in the fitness industry. What makes this oil…
castor oil hair
Castor oil : A vitamin-rich oil for shiny locks and healthy bowels Castor oil bestows unlimited benefits, whether you use it for your hair or skin. But did you know…
canola oil cooking
Canola oil: How safe is it to consume this popular cooking oil? Extracted from rapeseeds, Canola oil derives its name from Canadian Oil. Did you know that some forms of…
maltodextrin sugar
Maltodextrin: What are the hidden health benefits of this food additive? Maltodextrin is one of the few food additives that has been relatively deemed safe. Many experts now have…
Moringa drink
Moringa: This could be the most nutrient-dense food known to us! Moringa is a lush green tree brimming with over 90 essential nutrients required for a healthy mind and…
Pomegranate: Why are they called ruby red pearls of health? The shrub Punicagranatum yields a red fruit which is what you normally call pomegranate. The fruit is round…
black seed oil benefits
Black Seed Oil: What secret benefits could it bestow on your health? Black seeds or nigella seeds are tiny packets of health brimming with amazing benefits. Find out why should…
Rick Simpson’s Oil: The truths and controversies of this cannabis product Rick Simpson's Oil is an extract from the much-controversial plant, Cannabis. What is the actual truth behind the…
Anhedonia: Does the chronic inability to feel joy affect you too? How often do you feel dragged down by an invisible force? Do you feel an inexplicable emotional numbness…
Fructose: Healthy fruit-product or loaded with toxic calories? Fructose is a sugar derived from fruits and other plant sources. Does this mean that fructose consumption is…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
boost immunity tips
Step up your defence: 15 proven tips on how to boost your immunity Want to naturally build up a stronger immunity? Tired of frequent colds and runny nose?You will never believe…
healthy habits
10 healthy habits: Have a hearty kick-start to the New Year! Do you set goals that are too difficult for you to maintain? Are to struggling to follow healthy…
antibiotic resistance
Antibiotic Resistance: How common diseases become deadly Can a cold kill you? How important is to get a flu shot? Why do antibiotics fail against…
green tea benefits
Green Tea: Does it really aid weight loss and reverse aging? A centuries-old concoction of fresh green leaves, green tea holds the secret to healthy weight loss & delayed…
global warming health
Rising mercury and your health: How Global Warming is damaging your body Don't ignore the rising temperature. Global warming causes more than just heat strokes. It could be a lot…
Milk Thistle skin
Milk Thistle: Find possible cures for fatal diseases in these purple blooms Milk thistle is well-known for treating liver conditions. However, did you know that it comes with a plethora…
iron food shellfish
Iron-Rich Foods: Eat these foods to keep fatigue and anemia away! How to ensure a muscles as strong as iron? Eat iron rich foods ! Iron is one of…
Salt dangers
Sodium chloride: The wonders and dangers of the simple table salt Sodium chloride is a salt containing sodium and chlorine ions at a 1:1 ratio. It is edible and…
gout diet purines
Gout Diet : Get relief from painful joints by eating these foods Are you a victim of this painful condition? Are medications providing only short relief? Find a list of…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
Did you know drinking alkaline water could be the healthier choice for you? Ever wondered how safe is your drinking water in terms of pH? Recent studies have revealed that Alkaline…
Amnesia brain
Amnesia: It’s not just a blow on the head that can erase your memory Amnesia, a condition popularized by many a tv shows, is a condition of partial or permanent memory loss.…
stress adverse effects
Fight, flight, or freeze: 8 ways stress can ruin your body Did you know that stress is in-built in our systems? It helped our ancestors respond to danger. How…