Liver cancer: Introduction
Liver cancer occurs when there is an uncontrolled growth of cancer cells that form a malignant tumor in the liver. The most common type of liver cancer is metastatic liver cancer or secondary liver cancer. Metastatic liver cancer grows from cancer cells that have spread (metastasized) from another part of the body. It is also called secondary liver cancer. Primary liver cancer occurs when a malignant tumor originates in the liver itself. Primary liver cancer is far rarer than metastatic liver cancer.
The liver is a vital organ located in the upper right area of the abdomen. The liver play an important role in fighting infection, stopping bleeding, clearing the blood of toxins, storing energy, producing healthy blood, digesting food and removing waste.
Normally, cells in the pancreas that are old or damaged will stop dividing and die before they can become cancerous. These cells are usually replaced by healthy young cells. Liver cancer occurs when old or damaged cells continue to divide and multiply uncontrollably and develop into a malignant tumor. As a malignant tumor grows, it seriously interferes with the functions of the liver, which are essential to life. It is not unusual for several malignant tumors to grow in the liver.
Having certain diseases can lead to liver cancer. These include cirrhosis of the liver, chronic alcoholism, chronic hepatitis C and chronic hepatitis B. People at risk for developing liver cancer also include those who are obese or have diabetes, especially if they have had hepatitis or drink excessively.
Liver cancer is most curable if caught in the earliest stage of the disease. However, there are generally no symptoms in early stages of liver cancer. If there are symptoms, they can be very vague and include nausea, weight loss, and loss of appetite. For additional symptoms, refer to symptoms of liver cancer.
Diagnosing liver cancer and its stage of advancement begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms and risk factors for liver cancer. Diagnosis also includes completing a full physical examination.
Diagnostic testing includes blood tests called liver function tests that can determine how well the liver is functioning. Imaging tests that create a picture of the liver can include a CT scan, ultrasound, MRI, or an angiogram.
Diagnostic testing may also include a liver biopsy. In a liver biopsy, a small sample of liver tissue is taken and examined under a microscope to look for cancer cells. The sample can be taken using a needle inserted through the skin or during a laparoscopic procedure. In a laparoscopic procedure, a sample of the suspected malignant tumor is taken through a small incision in the abdomen.
A diagnosis of liver cancer can be missed or delayed because there are generally no symptoms in early stages of the disease. Additionally, symptoms of liver cancer are similar to those of other diseases and conditions, such as cirrhosis of the liver, gallstones, indigestion, and gastritis. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of liver cancer.
Treatment of liver cancer varies, depending on the stage of advancement of the disease and other factors. Treatment may include a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, liver transplant in some cases and other treatments. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of liver cancer. ...more »
Liver cancer: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a primary malignancy of the liver.
More detailed information about the symptoms,
causes, and treatments of Liver cancer is available below.
Liver cancer: Symptoms
Symptoms of liver cancer can vary among individuals. There are generally no symptoms until liver cancer has developed to an advanced stage. When symptoms do appear, they can be vague and very similar to other diseases, disorders and conditions. These symptoms can include weight loss, loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, and bloating, and fever. There may also be pain in the right ...more symptoms »
Liver cancer: Treatments
The best prognosis for a cure for liver cancer occurs when it is diagnosed and treated in its very earliest stage. Treatment plans for liver cancer are individualized for each person's specific case. Treatment plans are based on the specific type and stage of advancement of the liver cancer, the condition of the liver, a person's medical history, generally ...more treatments »
Liver cancer: Misdiagnosis
A diagnosis of liver cancer can be delayed or missed because there are generally no symptoms until the disease has reached an advanced stage. In addition, some symptoms of liver cancer can be vague and similar to other diseases, conditions and disorders. These include influenza, cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatic cancer, gastroenteritis, gastritis, gall stones, and ...more misdiagnosis »
Symptoms of Liver cancer
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symptoms of Liver cancer
Treatments for Liver cancer
See full list of 21
treatments for Liver cancer
Home Diagnostic Testing
Home medical testing related to Liver cancer:
- Colon & Rectal Cancer: Home Testing
- Food Allergies & Intolerances: Home Testing:
Wrongly Diagnosed with Liver cancer?
Liver cancer: Related Patient Stories
Liver cancer: Deaths
Read more about Deaths and Liver cancer.
Alternative Treatments for Liver cancer
Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Liver cancer may include:
Types of Liver cancer
- Cell types affected:
- Hepatocellular carcinoma - primary liver cancer (hepatoma); also called "malignant hepatoma".
- Secondary liver cancer - caused by metastasis of some other non-liver cancer cell type.
- Stage of liver cancer:
- Localized resectable liver cancer - a local cancer than can be treated with partial liver surgery.
- more types...»
See full list of 7
Types of Liver cancer
Curable Types of Liver cancer
Possibly curable types of Liver cancer include:
Rare Types of Liver cancer:
Rare types of Liver cancer include:
Diagnostic Tests for Liver cancer
See full list of 13
diagnostic tests for Liver cancer
Liver cancer: Complications
Review possible medical complications related to Liver cancer:
Causes of Liver cancer
See full list of 42
causes of Liver cancer
More information about causes of Liver cancer:
Disease Topics Related To Liver cancer
Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Liver cancer:
Liver cancer: Undiagnosed Conditions
Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:
Misdiagnosis and Liver cancer
Chronic digestive conditions often misdiagnosed: When diagnosing chronic symptoms
of the digestive tract, there are a variety of conditions that may be misdiagnosed.
The best known, irritable bowel...read more »
Intestinal bacteria disorder may be hidden cause: One of the lesser known causes of diarrhea
is an imbalance of bacterial in the gut, sometimes called intestinal...read more »
Antibiotics often causes diarrhea: The use of antibiotics are very likely
to cause some level of diarrhea in patients.
The reason is that antibiotics kill off not only "bad" bacteria,
but can...read more »
Food poisoning may actually be an infectious disease: Many people who come down
with "stomach symptoms" like diarrhea assume that it's "something I ate" (i.e. food poisoning).
In fact, it's more likely to be an infectious...read more »
Mesenteric adenitis misdiagnosed as appendicitis in children: Because appendicitis is one of the
more feared conditions for a child with abdominal pain, it can be over-diagnosed
(it can, of course, also fail to be diagnosed with...read more »
Spitz nevi misdiagnosed as dangerous melanoma skin cancer: One possible misdiagnosis to
consider in lieu of melanoma is spitz nevi.
See ...read more »
Celiac disease often fails to be diagnosed cause of chronic digestive symptoms: One of the most common chronic digestive
conditions is celiac disease, a malabsorption disorder with...read more »
Chronic liver disease often undiagnosed: One study reported that 50% of patients
with a chronic liver disease remain undiagnosed by their primary physician.
The reasons are multifactorial.
Possible conditions include chronic...read more »
Chronic digestive diseases hard to diagnose: There is an inherent
difficulty in diagnosing the various types of chronic digestive diseases.
Some of the better known...read more »
Read more about Misdiagnosis and Liver cancer
Liver cancer: Research Doctors & Specialists
Research related physicians and medical specialists:
- Cancer Specialists:
- Digestive Health Specialists (Gastroenterology):
- Liver Health Specialists (Hepatology):
- more specialists...»
Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:
Hospitals & Clinics: Liver cancer
Research quality ratings and patient safety measures
for medical facilities in specialties related to Liver cancer:
Hospital & Clinic quality ratings »
Choosing the Best Hospital:
More general information, not necessarily in relation to Liver cancer,
on hospital performance and surgical care quality:
Liver cancer: Rare Types
Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:
Latest Treatments for Liver cancer
Read more about the latest treatments for Liver cancer
Evidence Based Medicine Research for Liver cancer
Medical research articles related to Liver cancer include:
Click here to find more evidence-based articles on the TRIP Database
Liver cancer: Animations
More Liver cancer animations & videos
Prognosis for Liver cancer
Prognosis for Liver cancer:
Overall prognosis for survival depends on the extent of cirrhosis and tumor stage, which then determine the appropriate treatment. Patients able to undergo a curative resection have a median survival of as long as 4 years; patients who present when they are too ill to be treated have a median survival of 3 months.
More about prognosis of Liver cancer
Research about Liver cancer
Visit our research pages for current research about Liver cancer treatments.
Clinical Trials for Liver cancer
The US based website ClinicalTrials.gov lists information on both federally
and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.
Some of the clinical trials listed on ClinicalTrials.gov for Liver cancer include:
See full list of 241
Clinical Trials for Liver cancer
Statistics for Liver cancer
Liver cancer: Broader Related Topics
Types of Liver cancer
Liver cancer Message Boards
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User Interactive Forums
Read about other experiences, ask a question about Liver cancer, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:
Definitions of Liver cancer:
Malignant neoplastic disease of the liver usually occurring as a metastasis from another cancer; symptoms include loss of appetite and weakness and bloating and jaundice and upper abdominal discomfort
- (Source - WordNet 2.1)
Liver cancer is listed as a "rare disease" by the Office of
Rare Diseases (ORD) of the National Institutes of Health
(NIH). This means that Liver cancer, or a subtype of Liver cancer,
affects less than 200,000 people in the US population.
Source - National Institutes of Health (NIH)
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