The incidence rate for liver cancer has tripled since 1980. According to the American Cancer Society, there will be over 40,000 new cases of liver cancer in 2017 and over 28,000 will die from this type of cancer. In addition to Breast Cancer Awareness month, October is also recognized as Liver Cancer Awareness month.
About Liver Cancer
Liver cancer (also known as hepatic cancer) is a type of cancer that starts in the liver. It begins when the liver cells begin to grow out of control, affecting the way the body works. Like other types of cancer, liver cancer can also spread to other areas, including the bones.
Causes and Risk Factors
Primarily, liver cancer is due to liver damage that may result from birth defects, alcohol abuse, or chronic infection from the hepatitis virus.
Other factors that can lead to liver cancer include obesity, fatty liver disease, exposure to certain chemicals such as vinyl chloride and arsenic, smoking, long-term use of anabolic steroids, and having certain health issues such as diabetes and rare diseases like Wilson’s disease and tyrosinemia.
Signs and Symptoms
Many cases of liver cancer are asymptomatic, which means that they may not have signs and symptoms until the cancer cells have spread or metastasized.
People with symptomatic liver cancer usually suffer from weight loss, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, feeling of fullness after a small meal, liver enlargement (felt on the right side, just under the ribs), abdominal pain, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the eyes).
The presenting signs and symptoms are not enough to confirm the diagnosis of liver cancer. Hence, doctors usually run a couple of tests including a liver biopsy, ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, and lab tests to check for alpha-fetoprotein (this is usually high for patients with liver cancer).
Treatment for liver cancer depends on several factors including the stage and grade of the cancer, the patient’s age, and the presence of other medical problems.
Treatment options for liver cancer include surgery, tumor ablation, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, and chemotherapy.
Premier Surgical in Knoxville has a group experienced surgical oncologists who have specialized knowledge and skill relating to the diagnosis, pre-operative, operative, and post-operative management of primary and metastatic liver cancers.