Liver Cancer

Liver Cancer Explained

Liver Cancer

Risk factors and possible causes

It is still unknown the exact cause of hepatocellular carcinoma. This type of cancer is not infectious nor can it be passed onto other people. Listed below are some of the risk factors that can increase a persons risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma.

Age Range

As we get older so does the risk of developing HCC, 70% of cases are in individuals over the age of 65.

Cirrhosis of the liver

Cirrhosis of the liver is a scarring throughout the liver which can be caused by a number of factors, These can include chronic liver infection, Drinking alcohol heavily over a prolonged period of time and obesity that can create chronic fatty liver disease and other rare conditions such a haemochromatosis and primary billary cirrhosis.

Cirrhosis of the liver can increase the risk of liver cancer (HCC). The level of risk does vary depending on the cause of the cirrhosis. Though only a small number of people with cirrhosis of the liver will develop primary liver cancer.

Infection

An infection over a long period of time with either Hepatitis B or C virus can cause liver cancer and cirrhosis which in turn can increase the risk of Liver Cancer (HCC). Those individuals with hepatitis B or C need to avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, this may further increase their risk of developing primary liver cancer.

Inherited Medical Problems

Liver cancer is not directly caused by an inherited faulty gene, though individuals who have certain inherited conditions may have a higher chance of developed cirrhosis of the liver and HCC/ The conditions that are linked are the following;

  • Haemochrosmatosis (excess deposits of iron in the body)
  • Tyrosinaemia (too much amino acid referred to as tyrosine in the blood)

Symptoms

During the early stages of primary liver cancer there may be no obvious symptoms or symptoms may not be prominent.

Jaundice

If the liver isn’t working correctly Jaundice can occur, this is because cancer or a disease such as cirrhosis of the liver is present. This can also occur if the bile duct is blocked by cancer, this causes bile produced by the liver to return back into the bloodstream

Ascites

Occasionally excess fluid may build up in the abdomen and legs, which in turn can cause swelling referred to as ascites.  A tube can be put into abdomen to drain the fluid if ascites develop.

If any of these symptoms are present then it is important to consult your GP and seek medical attention.

Other Symptoms

  • Pain in the Upper abdomen caused by enlarged liver
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • High temperature
  • Nausea
  • Unexplained weight loss

If any of these symptoms are present then it is important to consult your GP and seek medical attention.

Treatment for Liver Cancer

When it comes to treatment for Liver Cancer, the type of treatment that will be offered is dependent on the type of liver cancer you have, the stage and grade of the cancer, and the individual’s general health.

The main treatments currently used to treat primary liver cancer are the following;

  • Surgery
  • Chemoembolisation
  • Tumour ablation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Biological Therapy
  • Radiotherapy
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