What is Liver Cancer?
Liver cancer is cancer that begins in the cells of your liver, the large organ that processes blood and breaks down, creates, and balances nutrients, and metabolizes them into forms that are easier and nontoxic for the body.
Several types of cancer can form in the liver, with the most common being hepatocellular carcinoma. Other varieties, such as intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma and hepatoblastoma, are rare. Cancer that spreads to the liver and begins in other areas of the body, such as the colon, lung, or breast, is more common than liver cancer itself.
Sometimes the cause of liver cancer is known, such as with chronic hepatitis infections. In most other cases, however, the reason for the cancer is unclear.
Signs and Symptoms
Most people don’t experience many symptoms in the early stages of liver cancer. When the signs do appear, they can include:
- Loss of appetite
- Losing weight without trying
- Nausea and vomiting
- Upper abdominal pain
- Abdominal swelling
- Weakness and fatigue
- Yellow discoloration of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice)
- White, chalky stools
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it's essential to consult with your doctor as soon as possible.
Some factors that increase the risk of developing liver cancer include:
- Chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus or the hepatitis C virus
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Certain inherited liver diseases such as hemochromatosis and Wilson’s disease
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- Exposure to aflatoxins, or poisons produced by molds
- Excessive alcohol consumption
While it's impossible to prevent cancer from developing in your body, there are several steps you can actively take to minimize your risk:
- Reduce your risk of cirrhosis by maintaining a healthy weight and drinking alcohol in
- Get vaccinated against hepatitis B.
- Prevent Hepatitis C by knowing your sexual partners’ health status, not engaging in unprotected sex, not using dirty needles with intravenous drug use, and using only clean, safe shops when getting a tattoo or piercing.
- Get proper treatment for a hepatitis B or hepatitis C infection.
Cancer Treatment in New YorkThe experts at New York Cancer and Blood Specialists are here to help you through your cancer journey, from diagnosis to survivorship. We are committed to providing our patients with a personalized path through treatment and unmatched support the entire time you are with us. Visit our website or give us a call at (855) 528-7322 to learn more.