What is Liver Cancer ?
There are two ways in which cancer can involve the liver. The cancer can arise from the liver itself (primary liver cancer) or it can spread to the liver from a primary tumour at another site (secondary, or metastatic, cancer).
No particular staging system exists for liver cancer. Although most hepatoblastomas are resectable curable, the prognosis is almost always poor. The disease progresses rapidly, with death usually occuring within 6 months of diagnosis from GI hemorrhage, progressive cachexia, liver failure. or metastasis spread. When cirrhosis is present, the prognosis is especially grim, with death from liver failure usually occurring within 2 months of diagnosis.
Causes of Liver Cancer
Once cause of liver cancer is exposure to vinyl chloride. Other causes of liver cancer are unknown. However certain risk factors have been identified. The risk factors are: Chronic Hepatitis, Cirrhosis of the liver and liver flukes (parasites).
Signs & Symptoms of Liver Cancer
A very early cancer will have little or no symptoms. It will have little or no symptoms because it is too small to cause any. As the cancer enlarges, it will have symptoms. The common symptoms are:
Liver cancer is usually diagnosed with a number of different tests, which may include:
Because liver cancer may reach an advanced stage before diagnosis, few hepatic tumors are resectable. A resectable tumor must be solitary and not accompanied by cirrhosis, jaundice, or ascites. Resection is performed by lobectomy or partial hepatectomy.
Radiation therapy may be used alone or with chemotherapy. Chemotherapeutic drugs include fluorouracil, doxorubicin, methotrexate,streptozocin, and lomustine 1.V. or regular infusion of fluorouracil or flexuradine. Both therapies combined produce a better response rate than either therapy used alone. Liver transplantation is an alternative for some patients.
Surgery - to remove the cancer and damaged tissue. This is the main treatment for primary liver cancer. Surgery is only useful for secondary liver cancer if the cancer cells only affect one part of the liver.
Preventing and treating viral hepatitis may help reduce risk. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption. Certain patients may benefit from hemochromatosis screening.
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