Liver cancer is the disease when cells in the liver become abnormal and grow out of control. A tumor or tumors may form as a result of abnormal cell growth. The disease can also lead to liver failure, the complete loss of liver function. Similar to the other cancer types, liver cancer can spread to and affect other organs in the body.
What causes liver cancer?
Liver cancer affects people of all ages and ethnic groups, but there are several factors that increase an individual’s risk of developing this disease:
- Cirrhosis: Cirrhosis means scarring of the liver. Whenever the liver tries to heal itself from a disease or injury, scar tissue may form as a result and reduce the liver’s ability to perform its function. Cirrhosis is irreversible, and it is linked to the majority of liver cancer cases.
- Hepatitis B or C: These are chronic infections of the liver and often lead to cirrhosis and loss of liver function. Over many years, these infections can cause liver cancer.
- Family history of liver cancer
- Other risk factors such as smoking, alcohol abuse, diabetes, obesity, and exposure to harmful chemicals.
Liver cancer usually does not show symptoms until the later stages, and this makes early detection difficult. When symptoms do occur, they commonly include:
- Pain around the liver area (the right side of the upper abdomen)
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
Liver cancer is often treated by surgery (to remove the cancerous tissues), liver transplant, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of these methods. Treatment plans usually depend on the stage of the disease and the health condition of the patient.
You can significantly reduce your chance of developing liver cancer by taking these steps to protect yourself against hepatitis B and C, cirrhosis, and other liver illness.
- Receive vaccination against hepatitis B
- Because hepatitis B and C can be sexually transmitted, you can protect yourself by learning about the practice of safe sex, including the use of condom every time and to limit the number of sexual partners.
- Hepatitis B and C are transmitted via blood. You should avoid sharing razor blades, toothbrushes, needles, and other blood contaminated items.
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Stop smoking
- Lose weight if overweight
- If you are taking medications, ask your doctor about any potential effects on your liver.