This Is Why Liver Cancer Is Not the End of the World
What Is Liver Cancer?
This cancer begins in the liver when cells grow and divide abnormally. There are two ways this can happen. The first one is when cancer starts in the liver itself, also called primary liver cancer. The other way is when cancer spreads to the liver from other organs, where the cancer may have first begun. It is known as metastatic liver cancer.
There are several types of primary liver cancers, out of which the most common one is hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The other types of liver cancer include intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, hepatoblastoma, angiosarcoma, and hemangiosarcoma.
Is Liver Cancer Curable?
Liver cancer treatment depends upon various factors. It includes stage, location, whether it is primary or secondary, general health, etc. The liver cancer diagnosis often happens in the last stages, where, unfortunately, treatment becomes hard. If you have early-stage liver cancer, there are high chances of getting successful treatment. However, in the late stages, the treatment focuses on limiting the symptoms to extend your lifespan.
Moreover, every liver cancer is difficult to cure. The primary one leaves no symptoms in the early stages resulting in advanced liver cancer. In addition, secondary liver cancer spreads to more than one organ, which results in complex surgery.
What Causes Liver Cancer?
Cancer begins when there are mutations in the DNA. These mutations can result in abnormal cell growth, forming tumors. In some cases, chronic infections can also be causes of liver cancer. However, some people might develop liver cancer even without any underlying diseases which could act as reasons for liver cancer.
Besides, some risk factors may increase the chances of liver cancer. These risk factors include:
- Fatty liver
- Liver cirrhosis
- Chronic liver infections like hepatitis B and C
- Excess alcohol consumption
- Exposure to chemicals like aflatoxins
What Are the Stages of Liver Cancer?
Knowing the liver cancer stage tells the doctor how far cancer has spread in the body, how serious it is and helps them decide the best treatment for a patient. To get a correct diagnosis for liver cancer, the doctor conducts biopsies, CT scans, MRIs, etc.
Moreover, different doctors may use differing staging processes. Cancer staging is a complex process, but in the most simplified way, it includes four liver cancer stages:
- Stage 1: A tumor in the liver.
- Stage 2: One or more tumors are found in the liver or have spread to nearby blood vessels.
- Stage 3: In this stage, more than one tumor is present. A single tumor can be about 5 cm. Here, the cancer has also spread to large blood vessels, other organs, or lymph nodes.
- Stage 4: Cancer has spread to other parts of the body as other organs or lymph nodes.
There could be more possible scenarios in liver cancer stages. Ask your doctor to explain cancer staging in detail.
What Is the First Sign of Liver Cancer?
Often, there are no initial signs of liver cancer. The signs and symptoms of liver cancer do not occur until it reaches its last stages. Some of the symptoms may include:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Upper abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dark urine
- Abdominal swelling
It is not definite that these symptoms indicate liver cancer. If you experience such symptoms, consult a specialist at a hospital for further diagnosis and treatment.
How to Cure Liver Cancer?
Liver cancer treatment depends upon specific criteria. After knowing the stage and location, your doctor will choose a treatment for you. These may include:
- Total hepatectomy or liver transplant: Replacing the diseased liver with a liver from a donor
- Partial hepatectomy: Removing a part of the liver
- Chemotherapy: Cancer cells are killed with drugs and injections
- Immunotherapy: Here, your immune system is stimulated to fight cancer.
- Targeted drug therapy: Here, the cancer cells die after blocking the abnormalities present in cancer cells.
- Radiation Therapy: High-energy sources from X-rays and protons are used to kill cancer cells.
There may be other treatments with varying costs that your doctor will suggest based on your condition. Some of the treatments depend on the reason for liver cancer.
If you are at high risk of liver cancer and experience even the initial symptoms, visit a hospital and consult a doctor immediately. If you are in Hyderabad, visit Yashoda Hospitals and consult our cancer experts at any point in time. We are just an appointment away to answer all your queries. Get a free second opinion today.