What is liver cancer ?
Liver cancer starts in liver. “Understanding Liver Cancer” helps us in knowing the role, the functions and the importance of the liver.
About Liver :
The organ that lies behind your right ribs and below the right lung is the liver. It performs various functions such as
- It filters blood and circulates it throughout the body.
- It converts the nutrients and the drugs absorbed in the blood stream to ready to use chemicals.
- Liver has many types of cells and the cancer that forms in this part could be of various types too.
Primary Liver Cancers :
The place where the cancer first originates is called the primary site and such cancers are called primary liver cancers.
Hepatocellular Carcinoma :
The cancer begins in Hepatocytes. It is the most common form of liver cancer and is found in adults.
Bile Duct Cancer :
The small tubes inliver carry bile to the gall bladder and from the gall bladder to the intestines. The cancer that is formed in the small tubes is called Bile Duct Cnacer.
Rare Types of Liver Cancer :
Angiosarcoma and Hemangiosarcoma: It’s a rare cancer that grows rapidly as it attacks the blood vessels of the liver.
It’s found in children and is a rare kind of cancer. Such tumors can be successfully removed surgically.
Secondary Liver Cancers :
Cancer that originates from somewhere and spreads gradually to the liver are called secondary Liver Cancers.
The symptoms differ from person to person and one of these conditions could also be a noncancerous condition (benign).
- Loss of appetite
- Sudden weight loss without a change in your diet pattern
- Vomiting and uneasiness
- Weakness or fatigue
- Pain in shoulder or the upper blade.
- Enlarged liver
- Enlarged spleen
- Bloating in the abdomen as mass forms or swelling
- Jaundice. The most important symptom that shows the liver is not functioning normally. The yellowish eyes and skin is a clear condition.
The above signs are not be neglected. As the disease progresses it worsens and the treatment may not be successful. Hence, consult a doctor if you notice any of these symptoms.
Preparing for your appointment :
The above symptoms are definitely something that you should worry about. Hence consult a physician immediately. If the doctor finds the symptoms a cancer causing ones then he will immediately refer you to specialist who treats cancer.
When you have lots of thoughts and queries, it’s better to discuss with your doctor. The time with your doctor is limited because of which it’s better to go prepared when you meet the doctor. Here’s what your discussions and questions should include-
- The stage of the liver cancer
- The treatment procedures
- The side effects that may cause after the treatment
- The type of liver cancer
Your doctor will ask more questions than you might have on your mind or might arrive to your doubts while discussing about the symptoms.
Causes and Risk factors :
There are certain risks and causes that amount to cancer. Let’s take a look at them.
- Age is a risk factor. Liver cancer is usually seen in people above 60 years.
- Men are prone to liver cancer than women
- Race and the ethnicity too contribute to liver cancer
- Being obese could also cause liver cancer
- People addicted to alcohol become a victim to cirrhosis of liver cancer.
- Usage of tobacco also increases the risk of developing liver cancer
- Anabolic steroids are used by athletes to increase their muscle strength. There are chances of having cancer when these steroids are consumed for a long time.
- Long-time exposure to natural arsenic in water is also a risk factor.
- Chemicals like polychlorinated biphenyls,vinyl chloride and trichloroethylene is also a risk for cancer.
- A family history of liver cancer can also cause liver cancer.
- Diabetic patients too stand chances of developing liver cancer.
Tests and diagnosis :
You will be asked for your medical history and persistent symptoms. They will also examine your abdomen. Tests are conducted in combination with others which will help determine the disease and the extent of it. This will enable them to start a treatment procedure.
Imaging tests : you will be asked to undergo Imaging tests such as an MRI, an ultrasound or computerised tomography.
Blood tests : The blood tests give a clear picture of the abnormalities.
Liver Biopsy : A sample of tissue is removed by inserting a needle through your skin into your liver. The same is examined under a microscope for a change in the cells.Liver biopsy sometimes causes infection, bruising and bleeding.
The diagnosis reveals the extent and the stage of the disease of liver cancer.These tests help them in starting a treatment procedure. Stage IV and the stage D is an indication of an advance stage of liver cancer.
Treatment for liver cancer :
Surgery and chemotherapy are the main treatments adapted to treat liver cancer. The treatments vary from person to person based on the extent of the disease and other medical history. Certain factors that thespecialists look into before starting a treatment procedure are
- The area of the liver where the tumor has spread.
- The extent of the tumor
- Your general health
- State of your liver and its function.
Surgery is the best treatment for liver cancer. There are other treatments such as that can treat cancer other than surgery too. The biological therapysorafenib or chemotherapy is one such treatment that can be implemented for advanced primary liver cancers.
The two surgeries can treat liver cancer successfully. They are either through liver transplant or removing the area of the liver that has been affected by cancer which is called as liver section.
Surgery is used as an option in few cases only. Certain liver cancers wouldn’t have spread completely inside the liver or havespread outside. At such times only that part of the liver is removed. This grows back withhealthy tissues within few weeks after the removal of the affected area. But the same is not recommended if the liver is damaged with cirrhosis.
A liver transplant can also be used but invery few cases as the study says.
Surgery also has a role in palliative care. For example if yellowing (jaundice) is severe it may be possible to relieve the blockage of the bile by inserting a stent. This is a narrow tube which allows the bile to drain into the gut. Another example is to ease fluid in the tummy (abdomen) called ascites if it severe. The ascites can be drained by inserting a tube through the wall of the abdomen.
Other local treatments :
The other treatments have also proven to treat the liver cancer successfully. They are
- Radiofrequency ablation or microwave ablation: The tumor is heated using the radio waves with this procedure to treat liver cancer.
- Chemotherapy or Radiation: Radiation is given directly to the part of the affected area of the liver.
- Chemo-embolisation or radio-embolisation: Blood supply to the liver is cut off there.
- Percutaneous Ethanol Injection: Alcohol is injected into the liver.
The new treatments have given a hope to liver cancer patients. They have been cured adopting these procedures. The fight against the disease is tough. It can pull you down emotionally as the disease is life threatening.
There are many cancer survivors. These groups help you cope with the disease, everyday life with cancer and after. The centres, information groups counsel you about the disease and the ways to tackle it. Apart from that the energy, strength and moral support you get from your friends, relatives and family can boost your morale and enable you to handle any emotional trauma that comes along with the disease.
Primary liver cancers patients can be emotionally affected. The psychological effects can affect the treatment. Hence, it’s important for the patient to remain strong before and after the procedures. The counselling centres canbe very resourceful. Seek support from thecounselling centres. They provide counselling sessions to both the patient and the family members to fight the disease before and after the treatment procedures.
Why choose KIMS ?
KIMS Hospital, Hyderabad hosts one of India’s renowned and best surgical oncologists in Hyderabad for the treatment of liver cancer. KIMS hospital, Hyderabad is considered as one of the best liver cancer centers in Hyderabad. KIMS Hospital, Hyderabad offers the best liver cancer treatment and care in India. The best liver cancer specialists in India team up to treat critical and rare forms of liver cancers found in adults and children too.