How can one survive liver cancer ?
Liver cancer begins in the cells of the liver. The most common type of liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma. When the cancer develops in the other parts of the body and spreads to the liver it is called metastatic cancer. Liver is the second largest organ of the body. Its primary role is to regulate chemicals in the blood, produce bile to break down fats, and help in the production of cholesterol and special proteins.
Liver cancer is characterized by weight loss, appetite loss, upper abdominal pain, weakness and nausea, chalky stools and yellow eyes. Like other cancer cases, liver cancer occurs when liver cells develop changes (mutations) in their DNA. The liver cells multiply without control to form a mass of cancerous cells or tumour.
The symptoms of liver cancer include appetite and weight loss, upper abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, general weakness and fatigue, abdominal swelling, yellowish skin and eyes, and chalky stools.
Risk factors and complications
Patients suffering from hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) pose a greater risk of liver cancer. Cirrhosis, which is inflammation of the liver due to too much alcohol consumption leads to liver cancer. Hemochromatosis and Wilson’s disease also increase the risk of having liver cancer. Aflatoxin contamination of foods is also considered as the possible cause for liver cancer.
Tests and diagnosis
The abnormalities in the liver functioning are revealed by blood tests. The doctor recommends imaging tests like CT scan and MRI to check the external contour of the left and right lobes of the liver. Liver biopsy is advised to examine the liver cells for cancer. Biopsy of liver cells also helps in knowing the actual stage of the liver cancer. In certain cases, the doctor may ask for bone scan, which will confirm the advanced stage of liver cancer.
Treatments and drugs
Depending on the stage of liver cancer, the best treatment is advised by the doctor. Liver surgery or partial hepatectomy is recommended to remove cancerous area of the liver. This surgery is advised only when the tumour is small and the liver functioning is good. Liver transplant is recommended for early stage liver cancer.
Cryoablation is the process where the cancer cells are freezed using a cryoprobe. It uses extreme cold to destroy the cancer cells. During this procedure, the doctor places liquid nitrogen directly on the liver tumours, to destroy them. The ultrasound guides the cryoprobe to reach the cancer cells.
Ultrasound or CT scan is used to scan the liver for cancerous cells, which are later destroyed by electric current. Other treatments including injecting chemotherapy drugs into the liver, using of high powered energy beams, and targeted drug therapy.