Liver Cancer


What are the symptoms of liver cancer?

Symptoms of liver cancer include fatigue, jaundice (yellowing of the skin& Urine), pain, easy bruising or bleeding, lack of appetite, and weight loss.

Who are prone for development of liver cancer?

Those who are diagnosed to have liver cirrhosis are prone to have liver cancer. Alcoholism, viral hepatitis B and C, diabetes, and obesity are all risk factors for developing cancer.

How can liver cancer be prevented?

Prevention is very important when it comes to a disease like liver cancer. The underlying cause of liver cancer is often liver inflammation and the development of a condition called cirrhosis. In addition to avoidance of drugs and alcohol, infection (such as hepatitis B or C) and obesity can contribute to the development of liver cancer. Steps to minimize these risks include vaccination against hepatitis B for those at risk, prompt treatment for patients infected with hepatitis C, and maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise.

Is fatty liver disease and liver cancer-related?

Patients who have a very specific type of fatty liver disease (progressing to either non-alcoholic fatty liver disease Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), or cirrhosis) are at an increased risk for developing a cancer in the future. However, that does not mean that it will automatically develop into cancer. The diseases are not considered malignant (cancer).

How is liver cancer detected?

Patients diagnosed at an earlier stage have better outcomes. There are many strategies that are used to detect liver cancer, including frequent imaging studies (ultrasound, computed tomography scan, magnetic resonance imagining) and routine physical exams with blood testing. Those who have developed cirrhosis of liver should remain vigilant and screen with a variety of imaging methods to try to catch this disease as early as possible.

Are treatments for liver cancer the same as other cancers?

In general, the basic approach of any cancer therapy can also apply to liver cancer. These are:

  1. The treatment of the local disease. In liver cancer, we often address local disease with either surgery (removal of the tumor or even liver transplantation), radiation therapy which can be given directly to the tumour( TARE Therapy) or externally by radiation beams. The tumour can be ablated either using radio waves or by blocking blood supply to the tumour.
  2. The evaluation and treatment of any disease spread. In liver cancer, disease spread is commonly treated with administration of medications via a pill or an IV infusion depending on your doctor’s recommendations.

Are herbal medicines recommended to treat liver cancer?

The term ‘herbal medicine’ can represent thousands of compounds. Unfortunately, most are not rigorously tested or regulated by the companies that produce them. Some are likely very safe but some may be harmful. Patients taking these types of medications should discuss with their physicians when it comes to any drug they may be consuming.

Should I be worried if I have a cyst in my liver?

There is often nothing to worry about with simple cysts in the liver. They can be quite common. When we find cysts that are growing, we will often take extra care to ensure that there is not an associated tumor causing the growth. This is often arrived at by doing various types of scans and at times liver biopsy.

If a parent had/has liver cancer, are their children at greater risk of getting it?

In some cases, yes, a parent with liver cancer can raise your personal risk. However, this is not true for the majority of patients. It’s always good to talk to your liver doctor (Hepatologist) about your concerns or questions regarding genetic inheritance of a particular cause of liver disease which puts you under increased risk of liver cancer.

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