Liver Cancer

The Liver


The liver located under your right ribs underneath the right lung. The liver is figured like a pyramid and is partitioned into right and left lobes. The liver gets its supply of blood from two vessels. Most of its blood comes from the Hepatic Portal Vein and the rest comes from the Hepatic Artery. The hepatic artery supplies the liver with blood that is rich in oxygen and the portal vein carries nutrient-rich blood from the intestines to the liver.

Functions of Liver

It has many essential works:-

  • It removes harmful substances from the blood.
  • It makes enzymes and bile that help digest food.
  • It also converts food into substances needed for life and growth.

Overview of Liver Cancer

Cancer set in motions in cells, the building blocks that build up tissues. Tissues make up the organs of the body. Normal cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When normal cells grow old or are damaged, they die, and new cells take their place. Sometimes, this process goes wrong. New cells form when the body does not need them, and old or damaged cells do not die, as they should. The buildup of extra cells often forms a mass of tissue called a growth, nodule, or Tumor.

Liver Cancer
  • Benign Tumors.  Benign Tumorscan occasionally grow bulky enough to cause problems. However, they do not go into nearby tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. If they need to be treated, they can usually be cured by removing them with surgery.
  • Malignant growths.  These tumors may be a threat to life and sometimes can be removed but can grow back again. Malignant Tumors can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs (such as the stomach or intestine). Malignant Tumors can spread to other parts of the body.

Hepatocellular Carcinoma

This is the major and most common type of Liver Cancer. Liver Cancers set in motion in hepatocytes (liver cells). This type of cancer is called Hepatocellular Carcinoma or Malignant Hepatoma. Liver Cancer Cells can spread by breaking away from the original Tumor. About 80% to 90% of primary liver cancers are Hepatoma.

Bile duct cancer (Cholangiocarcinoma)

Bile Duct Cancers account for 10-15 percent of Liver Cancer. These cancers start in the small tubes (called bile ducts) that carry bile to the gallbladder. They are often treated the same way as HCC.

Cancers that begin in blood vessels in the liver (Angiosarcomas and Hemangiosarcomas)

Rare cancers that begin in the cells lining the blood vessels of the liver, these tumors grow quickly. Frequently, when they are found they are too widespread to be removed. Treatment may help slow the disease, but these cancers are usually very hard to treat.


A very rare type of Liver Cancer that is usually found in children younger than 4 years. About 2 out of 3 children with these tumors have good outcomes with surgery and chemotherapy.

Metastatic Liver Cancer

Blood from all parts of the body passes through the liver for filtration, cancer cells from other organs and tissues can effortlessly reach the liver, where they can lodge and grow into Secondary Tumors. Primary cancers in the colon, stomach, pancreas, rectum, esophagus, breast, lung, or skin are the most likely to spread to the liver. It is common for the Metastatic Cancer in the liver to be the first noticeable sign of a cancer that started in another organ.

Risk Factors of Liver Cancer

  • Male.
  • Above 60 persons.
  • Ethnicity. Asian with cirrhosis have four times as great a chance of developing liver cancer
  • Environmental Factors that have a propensity to cause cancer (carcinogens).
  • Birth Control with oral estrogens.
  • Hereditary Hemochromatosis. Abnormally high levels of iron storage in the body that often develops into cirrhosis, increasing the risk of Liver Cancer.
  • Cirrhosis. A patient with cirrhosis has 40 times the chance of developing a hepatoma than a person with a healthy liver.
  • Hepatitis Viruses: Hepatitis B (HBV), Hepatitis C (HCV), Hepatitis D (HDV), or Hepatitis G (HGV)
  • Obesity
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Alcoholism

Symptoms of Liver Cancer

Signs and symptoms of liver cancer are not noticed until the cancer is well advanced. Patient of Liver Cancer does not feel pain because of few veins in the liver. Symptoms are the same for both primary and secondary liver cancer.  In later stages, liver cancer can cause an ache in the upper abdomen or back. Rather than feeling pain in the liver, it is felt in the surrounding area due to distension (swelling), irritation or inflammation of the liver.

Other symptoms include loss of appetite, weakness and loss of weight (particularly loss of muscle in the arms and legs), nausea, fever and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes). The abdomen may also be swollen.

Diagnosis and Tests for Liver Cancer

  • Blood test – AFP (Alpha Fetoprotein).  50% and 75% of Primary Liver Cancer Patients have abnormally high blood serum levels of a particular protein (alpha-fetoprotein or AFP). The AFP test, however, cannot be used by itself to confirm a diagnosis of liver cancer, because cirrhosis or chronic hepatitis can also produce high alpha-fetoprotein levels. Tests for alkaline phosphatase, bilirubin, lactic dehydrogenase, and other chemicals indicate that the liver is not functioning normally.
  • Ultrasound
  • Imaging scans – either an MRI or CT Scan.
  • Liver Biopsy.  A small sample of tumor tissue is removed and analyzed. The analysis can reveal whether the tumor is Cancerous (Malignant) or Non-Cancerous (Benign).
  • Laparoscopy. A small cut in the lower abdomen is made and this allows a thin mini-telescope (laparoscope) to be inserted to look at the liver and take a sample of liver tissue.

Treatment of Liver Cancer

Based on various factors, your treatment options may include:-

  • Surgery (partial hepatectomy or liver transplant)
  • Radiation therapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Chemotherapy

In some cases, doctors may recommend combining more than one of these treatments.

Survival Rate from Liver Cancer

  • Localized.  The cancer is still restricted to the liver, and includes stages I, II, and some stage III cancers. This includes a wide range of cancers, some of which are easier to treat than others.
  • Regional.  The cancer has developed into nearby organs or has spread to nearby lymph nodes, and includes stages IIIC and IVA cancers.
  • Distant.  The cancer has spread to distant organs or tissues and is the same as stage IVB.
Stage 5-year Relative Survival Rate
Localized 28%
Regional 10%
Distant 3%

For all collective stages, the average 5-year Survival Rate from Liver Cancer is about 15%.


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