Liver Cancer Causes-Symptoms Diagnosis and Treatment

Liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), is a malignant tumor that originates in the liver. It is a major health concern worldwide, and its incidence is rising rapidly. Early detection and treatment of liver cancer can improve the chances of successful treatment and long-term survival. In this blog, we will provide a detailed guide to the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of liver cancer.

Causes of Liver Cancer : 

Liver cancer can be caused by various factors, including:

Hepatitis B and C Viruses:

Hepatitis B (HBV) and Hepatitis C (HCV) are viral infections that can lead to chronic disease affecting the liver. Chronic infections with these viruses are among the most significant risk factors for liver cancer. When the body attempts to combat these viruses, continuous inflammation and liver cell turnover occur, which can eventually lead to the development of liver cancer, specifically hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type.

Alcohol Consumption:

Excessive alcohol intake can cause liver damage, leading to a condition known as alcoholic liver disease. This progression may start with a fatty liver, advance to alcoholic hepatitis, and eventually lead to cirrhosis, which is characterized by permanent scarring and liver dysfunction. Each of these stages is associated with a higher risk of developing liver cancer, and the risk is exponentially higher for those with cirrhosis due to alcohol consumption.

Genetic Mutations:

There are genetic conditions that can increase the risk of liver cancer. For instance, hemochromatosis, a hereditary disease that causes iron accumulation in the liver, or alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, can both lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Additionally, mutations acquired in liver cells during one’s lifetime (somatic mutations) rather than those inherited can also induce cancerous growth.

Exposure to Certain Chemicals:

Exposure to aflatoxins, which are poisonous substances produced by certain kinds of mold that can contaminate poorly stored foodstuffs like nuts and grains, can greatly increase the risk of liver cancer. Similarly, long-term exposure to other chemicals like vinyl chloride and thorium dioxide (previously used in medical imaging) is also associated with an elevated risk of developing liver cancer.

Symptoms of Liver Cancer: 

Early stages of liver cancer often do not present with any symptoms. However, as the cancer progresses, the following symptoms may occur:

Abdominal Pain or Swelling:

Patients often report a dull, achy pain in the upper abdomen. Some may feel a mass or swelling in the same area, which can indicate a growing tumor or an enlarged liver.

Jaundice:

This is characterized by a yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, resulting from the liver’s inability to process and excrete bilirubin effectively. Jaundice is a common feature in liver disease and can be particularly pronounced in liver cancer cases.

Fatigue and weakness:

These non-specific symptoms are commonly reported by individuals suffering from liver cancer, significantly affecting the quality of life.

Loss of Appetite and Weight:

Unexplained weight loss and a persistent lack of appetite can be warning signs of liver cancer and are often associated with advanced-stage disease.

Nausea and Vomiting:

These symptoms may occur as a result of the body’s reaction to the liver’s impaired functionality or pressure effects from an enlarged liver or mass on the stomach and surrounding organs.

Easy Bruising or Bleeding:

The liver is responsible for producing clotting factors. Compromised liver function due to cancer can lead to a deficiency of these factors, resulting in an increased tendency to bruise or bleed.

Diagnosis of Liver Cancer:

Blood Tests:

A common blood test is to measure levels of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), which can be elevated in liver cancer. Other blood tests may evaluate liver function (liver function tests), clotting ability, and markers indicating overall health.

Imaging Tests:

A range of imaging techniques are used to visualize the liver and identify potential tumors. These may include ultrasound, which is often the first step, followed by more detailed assessments with computed tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Occasionally, angiograms (x-ray studies of blood vessels) are performed to help delineate the liver’s blood supply, which can be altered by tumors.

Biopsy:

If imaging is inconclusive or further confirmation is required, a biopsy may be conducted. This involves removing a small sample of liver tissue with a needle or during surgery, which is then examined under a microscope for cancerous cells. However, in cases where imaging is highly suggestive of liver cancer, and the risk of biopsy complications is deemed significant, a biopsy may be deemed unnecessary for the diagnosis.

Treatment of Liver Cancer: 

Treatment options for liver cancer depend on the stage and underlying health of the patient. The following are common treatment options:

Surgery: 

Surgical removal of the tumor (partial hepatectomy) may be an option for early-stage liver cancer.

Liver transplant

In cases where the cancer is confined to the liver and a suitable donor is available, liver transplantation may be considered.

Ablation therapy

Techniques such as radiofrequency ablation (RFA) and microwave ablation (MWA) use heat to destroy cancerous cells.

Chemotherapy and targeted therapy: 

These systemic treatments may be used to shrink tumors and slow the progression of advanced liver cancer

Radiation therapy

High-energy beams are targeted at the tumor to kill cancer cells or alleviate symptoms

If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above or are concerned about your liver health, do not hesitate to seek medical attention at Inamdar Multispeciality Hospital, a leading cancer hospital in Fatima Nagar. Our team of experts can evaluate your condition and recommend the appropriate course of action. Early detection and treatment can significantly improve the chances of successful treatment and long-term survival. Don’t wait, book an appointment today!

Liver cancer is a complex and potentially life-threatening disease. Early detection and treatment can significantly improve the chances of successful treatment and long-term survival. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these <abbr title="HyperText Markup Language">HTML</abbr> tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*