Liver cancer is the most dangerous and fatal disease among all forms of cancer. An early detection though can help prolong life and improve quality as well. The liver functions as a filtering unit for the blood and also takes all the nutrients from the blood and converts them into usable chemicals. The liver also functions to remove toxins and waste chemicals from the blood and sends them for excretion. Since the liver is the sole center where blood passes, it has maximum chances to be in contact with cancerous cells traveling in the bloodstream. Liver cancer is a tumor of the liver and affects all the primary functions of the organ.
Types of Liver Cancer
There are four major types of liver cancer
- Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)
- Cholangiocarcinoma (Bile duct cancer)
Like other cancers clear reason for this cancer is also not known to medical science. However, in most cases the cause can be related to the following:-
- Viral Infection
- Aflatoxin (toxins which may be present in food releasing dangerous chemicals causing damage and cancer to the liver.)
- Drug abuse and high consumption of alcohol
The common risk factors which may cause the cancer of the liver are:-
- Extreme consumption of alcohol
- Ingestion of toxins
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- Chronic infection with Hepatitis C virus or Hepatitis B Virus
- Obesity and excessive visceral fat
This cancer is very complex as the liver is the most vital organ. Hence different cancers show different symptoms. A few of the common signs can be enumerated below.
- Sudden weight loss
- Not feeling to eat at all
- Excessive sweating
- Abdominal pain traveling to shoulder
- Fluid built-up
- Swollen spleen
- Swollen liver
Detection and Diagnosis
Early detection of liver cancer is difficult as symptoms are unclear. As the stage progresses the existence of cancer becomes clear. It is dangerous even in the early stages. Any advanced stage is not only fatal but lifespan is extremely less and painful. However, there are several methods to diagnose it. If a person has symptoms one must go for advanced diagnoses.
- Imaging test
- Alpha-fetoprotein blood test(AFP)
Stages of Liver Cancer
This cancer can be divided into three stages
- Stage 1 – Localized presence inside liver
- In Stage 2 – Cancer starts to spread to nearby organs
- Stage 3 – Cancer spreads to distant organ or tissues
The 5-year survival rate is just 28% in stage 1, which reduces to 7% in stage 2 and further reduces to 2% in stage 3.
Although medical science is unable to give a detailed analysis of the causes of liver cancer, there are few preventive measures that can be taken.
- Reduced consumption of alcohol
- Maintain correct BMI
- Avoid processed food
- Be careful about consumption or intake of chemicals
The liver is the human’s largest and most vital organ. Once cancer develops, it is difficult to control the growth. Organ stops working and starts to affect other organs as well. Like other cancers, if liver cancer is deducted early there are chances to prolong life expectancy and have a higher quality of life.