Cancer may arise from the liver or it can spread to liver from some other source of cancer in the body. Liver cancer is a cancer arising from the liver. It is also known as primary hepatocellular carcinoma or hepatoma. Hepatocellular carcinoma is not the same as metastatic liver cancer, which starts in another organ (such as the breast or colon) and spreads to the liver. Hepatocellular carcinoma accounts for most liver cancers and occurs more often in men than women. Hepatocellular carcinoma is more common in parts of Africa and Asia than in North or South America and Europe. Liver cancer is seen more in people in the age group of 45-60 years. In most of the cases the Liver cancer is caused due to scarring of the liver (cirrhosis).
Causes for Liver Cancer
- Intake of excess alcohol (alcohol absue)
- Hemochromatosis-Too much iron in the body
- Some types of autoimmune diseases of the liver
- Long-term inflammation of the liver due to some diseases
- Hepatitis B or C virus infection. Patients with hepatitis B or C are at risk for liver cancer, even if they do not have cirrhosis.
- Abdominal pain or tenderness, especially in the upper-right part
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- Enlarged abdomen
- Yellow skin or eyes (jaundice)
Signs and Tests
- Physical examination
- Liver biopsy
- Liver enzymes (liver function tests)
- Liver scan
- Serum alpha fetoprotein
- Abdominal CT scan
- Abdominal ultrasound
Periodic blood tests and ultrasounds may be necessary for some patients in order to see whether tumors are developing.
- A major liver surgery or liver transplant surgery may be used for the treatment of liver cancer. Liver Transplant or liver surgery is generally used to treat small or slow-growing tumors if they are diagnosed early. However only a few patients are diagnosed early.
- Chemotherapy and radiation treatments may be used to shrink large tumors so that it may help in successful surgery.
- Some oral medicine that blocks the growth of the tumour, can be used.