Liver cancer is a serious condition that affects millions of people around the world. It is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, with over 800,000 deaths reported annually. In this blog post, we will discuss the causes, liver cancer symptoms, diagnosis, and Treatment For Liver Cancer.
Causes of Liver Cancer
Several risk factors can increase a person’s likelihood of developing liver cancer. These include:
- Hepatitis B and C
Hepatitis B and C viruses can cause inflammation and damage to the liver, leading to cirrhosis and eventually liver cancer. People with chronic hepatitis B or C infections are at a higher risk of developing liver cancer.
- Alcohol Consumption
Excessive alcohol consumption can also damage the liver and increase the risk of developing liver cancer.
- Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)
NAFLD is a condition in which fat accumulates in the liver, leading to inflammation and damage. It can increase the risk of liver cancer in some cases.
Cirrhosis is a condition in which the liver becomes severely scarred due to long-term damage. This scarring increases the risk of liver cancer.
- Genetic Factors
Some genetic conditions, such as hemochromatosis and Wilson’s disease, can increase the risk of developing liver cancer.
Symptoms of Liver Cancer
Liver cancer often does not cause any symptoms in its early stages. However, as the tumour grows, it can cause the following liver cancer symptoms:
- Abdominal Pain
Liver cancer can cause pain or discomfort in the upper right side of the abdomen.
- Weight Loss
Unexplained weight loss is a common symptom of liver cancer.
- Yellowing of the Skin and Eyes
Liver cancer can cause a condition called jaundice, which leads to yellowing of the skin and eyes.
- Nausea and Vomiting
Liver cancer can cause nausea and vomiting, especially after meals.
- Swelling in the Abdomen
Liver cancer can cause fluid to build up in the abdomen, leading to swelling.
Diagnosis of Liver Cancer
Doctors use several diagnostic tests to diagnose liver cancer, including:
- Blood Tests
Blood tests can help detect liver cancer by measuring the levels of certain proteins and enzymes in the blood.
- Imaging Tests
Imaging tests, such as ultrasound, CT scans, and MRI scans, can help doctors visualise the liver and detect any abnormalities.
A biopsy involves taking a sample of liver tissue and examining it under a microscope to check for the presence of cancer cells.
Stages of Liver Cancer
Liver cancer is classified into four stages based on the size of the tumour and the extent of its spread. The stages are as follows:
- Stage 1
In stage 1, the tumour is small and has not spread to other parts of the liver.
- Stage 2
In stage 2, the tumour is larger and may have spread to nearby blood vessels.
- Stage 3
In stage 3, the tumour may have spread to other parts of the liver or nearby organs.
- Stage 4
In stage 4, the cancer may have spread to other parts of the body.
Treatment Options for Liver Cancer
The treatment options for liver cancer depend on the stage of the cancer, the size and location of the tumour, and the overall health of the patient. The treatment options include:
Surgery is one of the most common treatments for liver cancer. There are several surgical options available, including:
- Partial Hepatectomy: This involves removing a portion of the liver that contains the tumour.
- Liver Resection: This involves removing the entire affected lobe of the liver.
- Liver Transplant: In some cases, a liver transplant may be an option for people with liver cancer.
- Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy involves using high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. It can be administered externally or internally. External beam radiation therapy involves directing radiations from outside the body towards the tumour, while internal beam radiation therapy involves placing a radioactive substance directly into the liver.
Chemotherapy involves using drugs to kill cancer cells. It can be given orally or intravenously. Systemic chemotherapy is used when cancer has spread to other parts of the body, while targeted therapy is used when the cancer cells have specific mutations that make them vulnerable to certain drugs.
Ablation involves using extreme heat or cold to destroy the tumour. This can be done using several methods, including radiofrequency ablation, microwave ablation, and cryoablation.
Prevention of Liver Cancer
Prevention is always better than cure. There are several steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing liver cancer. These include:
- Vaccination for Hepatitis B
- Reducing Alcohol Consumption
- Maintaining a Healthy Weight
- Regular Screening for Liver Cancer
Liver cancer is a serious condition that requires prompt diagnosis and treatment. Knowing the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options can help you take proactive steps to protect your liver health.
By following preventive measures such as vaccination for hepatitis B, reducing alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy weight, and regular screening for liver cancer, you can reduce your risk of developing liver cancer and other liver-related diseases.