Posted in: Cancer by Dr. Tarang Krishna
What is Liver Cancer?
Liver cancer is the cancer that starts in the cells of the liver. The most common type of liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma, which begins in the main type of liver cell called hepatocyte.
What are the risk factors?
- Few of the most common factors that increase the cancer risk include:
- Chronic infection with Hepatitis B and C virus can lead to cirrhosis which increases the cancer risk
- Excessive alcohol consumption (more than 5 units of alcohol per day can result in cirrhosis and increase the cancer risk)
- Accumulation of fat in liver (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease)
- People with blood sugar disorder like diabetes are at high risk of getting liver cancer
- Inherited liver cancer diseases like hemochromatosis and Wilson's disease can increase the cancer risk
- Eating raw fish can result in the invasion of liver flukes in the liver which can increase the cancer risk
- Family members suffering from liver cancer have double the risk to developing liver cancer than others
- Long term exposure to chemicals like Vinyl Chloride which is used to make plastics, packaging and pipes can result in liver damage and cause cancer
What are the symptoms?
Liver cancer signs and symptoms usually do not appear in the initial stage. When symptoms appear they include:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Discoloration of the skin (jaundice)
- Abdominal pain and swelling
Doctor should be consulted if any of the signs and symptoms occurs frequently.
How is liver cancer diagnosed?
- Blood test: alfa-fetoprotein (AFP) levels in the blood are checked. If the levels are high there can be chances of liver cancer
- Scans: Imaging tests like CT scan and MRI are done to find the location and extent of blood supply to the cancer
- Liver biopsy: Tissue samples are taken from the lesions in the liver which is viewed to find the disease
How can you prevent the disease?
- Reduce the risk of cirrhosis by drinking alcohol in moderation (woman- not more than one drink per day and man- not more than two drinks per day)
- Avoid eating raw fish
- Get vaccinated for hepatitis B virus
- Take proper measures to prevent hepatitis C virus by performing safe sex, using a clean needle, etc.
What are the treatment options?
Treatment options depend on the size and the location of the disease. Few of the most common treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, heating or freezing cancer cells and Immunotherapy.
What is immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy also known as biological therapy works by enhancing the body’s own immune system to fight cancer without any major side effects like hair loss, bone loss, damage to normal cells, nausea, body pain etc. To know more about it check the following link: www.cancerhealercenter.com