Liver cancer is cancer that begins in the cells of your liver. Your liver is a football-sized organ that sits in the upper right portion of your abdomen, beneath your diaphragm and above your stomach.
The most common form of liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma, which begins in the main type of liver cell (hepatocyte). Other types of cells in the liver can develop cancer, but these are much less common.
Not all cancers that affect the liver are considered liver cancer. Cancer that begins in another area of the body — such as the colon, lung or breast — and then spreads to the liver is called metastatic cancer rather than liver cancer. And this type of cancer is named after the organ in which it began — such as metastatic colon cancer to describe cancer that begins in the colon and spreads to the liver.
It's not clear what causes most cases of liver cancer. But in some cases, the cause is known. For instance, chronic infection with certain hepatitis viruses can cause liver cancer.
Liver cancer occurs when liver cells develop changes (mutations) in their DNA — the material that provides instructions for every chemical process in yourbody. DNA mutations cause changes in these instructions. One result is that cells may begin to grow out of control and eventually form a tumor — a mass of cancerous cells.
Losing weight without trying
- Loss of appetite
- Upper abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- General weakness and fatigue
- Abdominal swelling
- Yellow discoloration of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
- White, chalky stools
The treatment options are dictated by the stage of Liver Cancer and the overall condition of the patient. The treatment to be given depends mainly on the size, number, and site of tumors in the liver. Before planning the appropriate treatment the functioning of the Liver is checked as also the spread of the cancer within and outside the liver is to be tested. The Various treatment options available are as follows:
Surgery : Surgery is the removal of the tumor and surrounding tissue during an operation. It is likely to be the most successful disease-directed treatment, particularly for patients with small tumors (smaller than 5 cm). A surgical oncologist is a doctor who specializes in treating cancer using surgery.
Hepatectomy : When a portion of the liver is removed, the surgery is called a Hepatectomy. A Hepatectomy can be done only if the cancer is in one part of the liver, and the liver is working well. The remaining section of liver takes over the functions of the entire liver and may regrow to its normal size within a few weeks
Liver Transplantation :Liver transplant may be the best option for some people with small liver cancers. At this time, liver transplants are reserved for those with small tumors (either 1 tumor smaller than 5 cm across or 2 to 3 tumors no larger than 3 cm) that have not invaded nearby blood vessels. In most cases, transplant is used for tumors that cannot be totally removed, either because of the location of the tumors or because the liver is too diseased for the patient to withstand removing part of it.
Chemoembolization: This is a type of chemotherapy treatment in which drugs are injected into the hepatic artery and then the flow of blood through the artery is blocked for a short time so the chemotherapy stays in the tumor longer. Blocking the blood supply to the tumor also kills cancer cells
Radiation Therapy : Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy x-rays or other particles to kill cancer cells. A doctor who specializes in giving radiation therapy to treat cancer is called a radiation oncologist. A radiation therapy regimen (schedule) usually consists of a specific number of treatments given over a set period of time. External-beam radiation therapy is radiation given from a machine outside the body. External-beam radiation therapy is not often used for HCC.
Targeted Therapy : Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets the cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. This type of treatment blocks the growth and spread of cancer cells while limiting damage to normal cells. Recent studies show that not all tumors have the same targets. To find the most effective treatment, your doctor may run tests to identify the genes, proteins, and other factors in your tumor.