Liver cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the liver. Some cancers develop outside the liver and spread to the area. However, only cancers that start in the liver are described as liver cancer.
The liver, which is located below the right lung and under the ribcage, is one of the largest organs of the human body. It has a range of functions, including removing toxins from the body, and is crucial to survival.
Liver cancer consists of malignant hepatic tumors in or on the liver.
In the United States, around 22,000 men and 9,000 women are diagnosed with liver cancer every year. It is fatal in around 17,000 men and 8,000 women per year.
Fast facts on liver cancer
Liver cancer has a low survival rate
Major risk factors include excessive alcohol intake, hepatitis, and diabetes.
Symptoms generally do not appear until the cancer is advanced.
Treatment options for liver cancer include surgery and liver transplant.
Liver cancer is extremely serious, and symptoms are often not obvious until a later stage.
The signs and symptoms of liver cancer tend not to be noticed until the cancer reaches an advanced stage.
Liver cancer may trigger the following effects:
unexplained weight loss
an enlarged liver
Staging a cancer allows a doctor to decide the course of treatment.
Liver cancer is categorized into four stages:
Stage I: The tumor is in the liver and has not spread to another organ or location.
Stage II: Either there are several small tumors that all remain in the liver, or one tumor that has reached a blood vessel.
Stage III: There are various large tumors or one tumor that has reached the main blood vessels. Cancer may have also reached the gallbladder.
Stage IV: The cancer has metastasized. This means that it has spread to other parts of the body.
Once the stage has been found, a course of treatment can begin.
People with diabetes who drink excessive amounts of alcohol face an increased risk of liver cancer.