Liver Cancer

Liver Cancer

What Is Liver Cancer?

The liver is a vital organ responsible for filtering blood from the digestive tract, synthesizing essential proteins and chemicals for various bodily functions, including clotting, metabolism, digestion, and drug detoxification.

Liver cancer, medically known as hepatocellular cancer, originates within the liver. It can develop from abnormal cell growth within the liver, which may lead to issues like internal bleeding or bile duct blockages. Early detection is key to effectively treating liver cancer, although it can be challenging to diagnose as symptoms often manifest in advanced stages.

Liver cancer encompasses a range of cancers affecting the liver. It may be categorized as primary liver cancer, which originates within the liver itself, or secondary/metastatic cancer, which spreads from other parts of the body to the liver. Primary liver cancer often results from liver damage due to factors like cirrhosis, alcohol abuse, certain birth defects, chronic infections (such as hepatitis B and C), hemochromatosis, obesity, fatty liver disease, and more.

Types Of Liver Cancer

Liver cancer originates in an essential organ responsible for many vital bodily functions. It can be broadly classified into five distinct types, each affecting the liver in its unique way. These various liver cancer types are all serious and tend to have a recurring nature. The different categories of liver cancer include:

The liver is essential for life, as it performs a vast number of biochemical reactions on a daily basis. Liver tumors can be benign or malignant. Some common benign tumors are:

  • Cysts
  • Fibroma
  • Lipoma
  • Leiomyoma
  • Hemangioma
  • Hepatic adenoma
  • Focal nodular hyperplasia

Signs And Symptoms Of Liver Cancer

The liver cancer symptoms can be difficult to detect at first. The patient may feel nothing or only mild discomfort. Initially, the patient might not realize that they have liver cancer. But as it spreads, some of these symptoms are bound to appear:

  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Itching
  • An enlarged liver
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Swelling or fluid build-up in the abdominal area
  • Change of skin color and the change of eye white part to yellow

Causes And Risk Factors Related To Liver Cancer

There are chances of infection in the liver, jaundice, and hepatitis that may result in cancer if not treated properly and completely. By knowing it and understanding the causes, you can try to avoid these risks. There are a few reasons that trigger the risks related to liver cancers:


The symptoms of liver cancer can be challenging to detect initially. Patients may experience no symptoms or only mild discomfort. They might not initially realize they have liver cancer. However, as the disease progresses, some of these symptoms may emerge:

1. DNA mutations in liver cells can lead to the disease.
2. Rapid growth of tumor cells.
3. Conditions like diabetes may increase the risk of liver disorders.
4. Infections from hepatitis viruses, such as Hepatitis A and B.
5. Conditions like Wilson’s disease and hemochromatosis can contribute to liver infections.
6. Alcoholism is a major risk factor for the development of liver cancer.
7. Liver cirrhosis can result from the scarring of liver cells and may lead to liver cancer.
8. Contaminated food with aflatoxins can cause liver disorders and infections that may progress to liver cancer.
9. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, characterized by excessive fat accumulation in the liver, increases the risk of liver cancer.

Diagnosis Of Liver Cancer

Liver cancer is diagnosed through a series of screening tests. The doctor may recommend liver function tests to identify potential causes of tumor cell growth. A physical examination is conducted to look for symptoms or lumps that might suggest the presence of liver cancer. Additionally, several other tests may be performed to diagnose liver cancer, such as:

– Imaging studies like ultrasound, CT scans, and MRI scans to visualize the liver and any tumors.
– A liver biopsy, where a sample of liver tissue is taken for laboratory analysis.
– Blood tests to check for tumor markers or other abnormal blood components.
– A laparoscopy, which allows direct examination of the liver through a thin, flexible tube with a camera.
– Exploratory surgery to visually inspect the liver and surrounding areas for cancer.

Stages Of Liver Cancer

Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC) staging system is a cancer staging system for the liver that is used to classify cancers by their extent and whether they have spread to other parts of the body. The stages of liver cancer include:


In the third stage, only one tumor bigger than 5cm is noticed. There is a probability that cancer has moved beyond the liver to lymph nodes, blood vessels, or to another organ. It has two stages:

  • Stage 3A:More than one tumor is seen where one is about 5cm and no spread is seen to lymph nodes or distant sites.
  • Stage 3B:One or more tumors of any size may be present with at least one advanced into the portal vein or hepatic artery. No spread to lymph nodes or distant sites is noticed.

Treatment Options For Liver Cancer

The treatment of liver cancer is a complex and long-term process that involves both surgical and non-surgical procedures. The choice of treatment depends on factors such as the type of cancer, its stage, the patient’s age, and gender. Liver cancers detected in the early stages can often be treated with surgery to prevent the disease from progressing and potentially leading to fatal outcomes.

Liver Cancer Treatment Options


TARE (Transarterial Radioembolization), EBRT (External Beam Radiotherapy), and SBRT (Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy) are various treatment options that can be considered for the management of certain cancer cases. These treatments employ radiation to target and treat cancer cells effectively. TARE specifically uses tiny radioactive beads that are inserted into blood vessels to irradiate the tumor, while EBRT and SBRT deliver radiation from outside the body to precisely target the cancer. The choice of treatment depends on the type and stage of cancer, as well as the individual patient's condition.

Percutaneous ethanol injection (PEI) is indeed a medical procedure used in the treatment of certain liver cancers, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), which is the most common form of primary liver cancer. During PEI, ethanol (alcohol) is injected directly into the tumor within the liver. The ethanol dehydrates and damages the cancer cells, leading to changes in their structure and protein denaturation. This procedure can be effective in treating specific cases of liver cancer, particularly in patients who are not candidates for surgery or liver transplantation. However, its suitability depends on the extent and location of the tumor and the overall health of the patient.

Follow Up After Liver Cancer Treatment

A follow-up examination is a routine medical check-up with your physician to monitor your health status. It may involve physical examinations, medical tests, or a combination of both. During these visits, your doctor will assess whether there are any treatment-related side effects and ensure that you are recovering as expected. It’s important to communicate any changes or concerns you experience with your doctor to facilitate appropriate follow-up care.

To aid in your recovery and overall well-being, here are some helpful tips:

1. Allow yourself sufficient rest and self-care.
2. Give your body time to heal after treatment.
3. Engage in social activities to boost your spirits.
4. Avoid taking on strenuous tasks at work or home.
5. Incorporate regular, moderate exercise into your routine.
6. Promptly consult your physician if you experience any discomfort.
7. Adopt a balanced diet rich in green vegetables while minimizing junk food consumption.

The type of cancer, its stage, whether cancer has spread, and your overall health all influence treatment options. The goal of treatment is to eliminate as many malignant cells as possible while minimizing damage to neighboring healthy cells. This is made feasible by technological advancements.

Follow Up After Liver Cancer Treatment

Selecting the right hospital for liver cancer treatment is crucial, as it significantly impacts one’s life and health. When making your choice, consider factors like the hospital’s reputation, medical equipment, and the expertise of its healthcare professionals. Here are some top hospitals renowned for their liver cancer treatment services:

1. Aster Medcity, Kochi
2. HCG Manavata, Nashik
3. Fortis BG Road, Bengaluru
4. Kokilaben Ambani Hospital
5. Fortis Hospital, Vadapalani
6. Fortis C-DOC, Chirag Enclave
7. Manipal Hospital, Whitefield
8. Fortis La Femme, Greater Kailash
9. Manipal Hospital, Old Airport Road
10. BKL Superspeciality Hospital, New Delhi
11. Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, Okhla Road

Remember to conduct thorough research and consult with healthcare professionals to make an informed decision about the most suitable hospital for your liver cancer treatment.


The rate at which cancer spreads can vary depending on the type of cancer and individual factors. Hemangiosarcomas and angiosarcomas are indeed known to be aggressive cancers that can spread rapidly. On the other hand, hepatocellular carcinoma (a primary liver cancer) may have a different growth rate and pattern of spread. However, the exact speed and extent of cancer spread can be influenced by various factors, including the stage at diagnosis, treatment options, and the patient’s overall health. It’s essential to discuss these specifics with a healthcare provider when dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

Liver cancer presents a significant challenge to cure, with primary liver cancer often remaining undetectable during its most treatable stages. Secondary liver cancer, which has spread, can be particularly challenging to treat. In cases where a cure is not possible, doctors may opt for palliative treatment to manage symptoms and improve the patient’s quality of life.


Yes, it is possible to cure liver cancer with non-surgical methods such as Radiofrequency Ablation and Partial Hepatectomy.

When liver cancer cell grows into the nearby lymph nodes, they spread easily to other parts of the body by lymphatic circulation.


Prevention is indeed better than cure, and there are several measures individuals can take to reduce the risk of liver cancer, including:

1. Getting vaccinated for Hepatitis B.
2. Practicing safe sex and avoiding intravenous drug use to prevent Hepatitis C.
3. Using sterilized needles for piercing and tattooing.
4. Consuming alcohol in moderation.
5. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise.
6. Limiting exposure to cancer-causing chemicals in the environment.

In this procedure, the entire liver is removed and replaced with another healthy liver from an organ donor. In most cases, a suitable healthy liver can be found within 24 hours of the surgery.

Some of the tests include a physical examination and medical history, serum tumor marker test, liver function test, CT scan, and MRI. A biopsy is typically performed in conjunction with laparoscopy to confirm the diagnosis.

Oftentimes, it is possible to cure cancer if it is detected early. Regular health screenings can help detect liver cirrhosis and viral hepatitis early. An integrated approach involving a multidisciplinary team is the best way to successfully combat liver cancer.

If you are experiencing any side effects of the treatment, it’s essential to inform your doctor immediately so that a follow-up treatment plan can be properly designed and maintained.

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