Liver Cancer Risks, Symptoms, and Treatment

The liver is the largest organ in the body located above the stomach and beneath the diaphragm with many important responsibilities. The liver’s primary task is to filter the blood to detoxify harmful substances as well as metabolize alcohol and drugs. The liver is also responsible for the production of bile and proteins needed for functions such as blood clotting.  Hence, when the liver is under attack and cannot function properly, it can lead to serious complications. When malignant cells form in the liver, it is then diagnosed with primary liver cancer. So let’s take a look at liver cancer risks, symptoms, and treatment.

Liver Cancer Risk Factors

Numerous risk factors are associated with an increased chance of liver cancer. Some of these factors are a family history of liver cancer, a family history of liver diseases, being overweight/obese, and being a smoker.

Furthermore, men are at an increased risk of developing liver cancer than women. More importantly, a large portion of individuals who get diagnosed with liver cancer also have a condition known as cirrhosis, which is typically caused by excess alcohol use.

The Symptoms of Liver Cancer

People with primary liver cancer typically do not exhibit any signs and symptoms in the early stages. In most cases, symptoms appear in the later stages, and the earlier it gets caught, the easier the treatment usually is. The most common liver cancer symptoms include appetite loss with unplanned weight loss, nausea, swollen spleen and liver, abdominal pain and swelling, and jaundice.

Diagnosing Liver Cancer

When there are symptoms, doctors can look into your medical history, examine you, and order tests to determine whether they are the result of liver cancer. Imaging tests such as CT scans, MRIs, and bone scans may be used to look for cancer.

There are also blood tests that can provide information about your liver function to help your doctor reach a diagnosis, including liver function tests and blood clotting tests.

Treating Liver Cancer

In terms of liver cancer treatment options, surgery may be recommended to remove the tumor in combination with chemotherapy. In most cases, chemotherapy alone is not sufficient to destroy cancer cells, so it is typically used in combination with another treatment option.

Percutaneous ethanol injection is also used, which involves the injection of alcohol into the tumor to eliminate it. The treatment approach, prognosis, and life expectancy all depend on the stage of cancer and the overall health of the patient.

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