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What is liver cancer?
What is the cause?
What are the symptoms?
How is it diagnosed?
How can it be treated?
Sat,09 Oct 2004 05:30:00 +0530
Written by : DoctorNDTV Team
Checked by :
  • What is liver cancer?
    Sat,09 Oct 2004 05:30:00
    Liver cancer is an abnormal, uncontrolled growth of cells in the liver. The liver is the largest internal organ of the body. It helps to regulate and store blood glucose (sugar). It helps get rid of drugs and toxins and produces important proteins. The liver also produces bile, which helps the body process fats and get rid of waste products. There are two types of liver cancer: primary and secondary.

    Primary liver cancer starts from the cells of the liver. The two most common forms of primary liver cancer are:

    Hepatoma, which is often associated with cirrhosis and hepatitis B or C infections
    Cholangiocarcinoma, a rare tumour developing in bile ducts cells.

    Secondary liver cancer occurs when a cancer starts someplace else and spreads to the liver. A secondary liver tumour may not be found until it causes symptoms.

  • What is the cause?
    Sat,09 Oct 2004 05:30:00
    Although the exact cause of liver cancer is not known, the contributing factors include:

    • Heavy alcohol drinking
    • Hepatitis B and C infections, cirrhosis, and other chronic liver ailments
    • Chronic liver disease
    • Haemochromatosis
  • What are the symptoms?
    Sat,09 Oct 2004 05:30:00
    Symptoms of liver cancer are:

    • Pain, especially in the abdominal area or around the right shoulder blade
    • Loss of weight
    • Loss of appetite
    • Pain or swelling in the abdomen
    • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of eyes)
  • How is it diagnosed?
    Sat,09 Oct 2004 05:30:00
    To diagnose liver cancer, the physician notes the symptoms, checks for weight loss, malnutrition, weakness, examines for enlargement of the liver and other signs. Certain tests required include:

    • Blood tests for anaemia and liver functions
    • Alpha-fetoprotein level (a protein that sometimes occurs in the blood when liver cancer is present)
    • Ultrasound exam of the liver
    • CT scan
    • Hepatic artery angiogram (a process in which a local anaesthetic is given and the person is injected with a dye-like substance; a series of x-ray pictures are then taken and examined for signs of any abnormal growths in the liver)
    • Biopsy (a procedure in which a local anaesthetic is given and then a small sample of tissue from the liver is obtained through the skin with a hollow needle)
  • How can it be treated?
    Sat,09 Oct 2004 05:30:00
    The treatment depends on the stage of the disease and whether it is primary or secondary liver cancer.

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