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If you are concerned about liver cancer, you should know that most people do not experience signs and symptoms of the cancer in the early stages. Liver cancer is a form of cancer which occurs in the cells of the liver. There are various types of cancer which can develop in the liver. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common liver cancer which begins in the hepatocyte, which is the main liver cell.
Usually there are no specific primary stage symptoms of liver cancer. Some symptoms which may develop include the following:
Unusual weight loss is observed
Loss of appetite and developing food aversion
Pain in the upper abdomen
General weakness with intense fatigue
Swelling in the abdomen
The skin may become yellow
White and chalky stools are likely
In most cases, the causes of liver cancer cannot be clearly determined. In some cases, the cause is known, such as chronic infection with the hepatitis virus, which may lead to liver cancer. Liver cancer occurs when the liver cells undergo changes or mutations in their DNA structure. DNA mutations lead to changes in instructions of chemical processes taking place in the body. The cells may grow out of control and develop into a cancerous tumour.
There are several factors which enhance the risk of liver cancer. They are as follows:
A progressive and irreversible condition known as cirrhosis leads to scar tissue formation in the liver, increasing the risk of liver cancer.
Certain inherited liver diseases such as Wilson’s disease and hemochromatosis also increase the chances of liver cancer.
People with diabetes are also at a greater risk of having liver cancer.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is the accumulation of fat in the liver, also increases the chances of getting this condition.
Excessive alcohol consumption is another factor which causes irreversible damage to the liver and the chances of getting liver cancer get boosted.
Exposure to aflatoxins, which are poisons produced by molds growing on poorly stored crops, make you more likely to get liver cancer.
Several tests and procedures are carried out for the diagnosis of liver cancer. These include blood tests for diagnosing liver function problems, and imaging tests such as ultrasound, CT scan and MRI scan.
1. Don't smoke. If you've never smoked, don't start. Talk to your children about not smoking so that they can understand how to avoid this major risk factor for lung cancer. Begin conversations about the dangers of smoking with your children early so that they know how to react to peer pressure.
2. Stop smoking. Stop smoking now. Quitting reduces your risk of lung cancer, even if you've smoked for years. Talk to your doctor about strategies and stop-smoking aids that can help you quit. Options include nicotine replacement products, medications and support groups.
3. Avoid secondhand smoke. If you live or work with a smoker, urge him or her to quit. At the very least, ask him or her to smoke outside. Avoid areas where people smoke, such as bars and restaurants, and seek out smoke-free options.
4. Avoid carcinogens at work. Take precautions to protect yourself from exposure to toxic chemicals at work. Follow your employer's precautions. For instance, if you're given a face mask for protection, always wear it. Ask your doctor what more you can do to protect yourself at work. Your risk of lung damage from workplace carcinogens increases if you smoke.
5. Eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables. Choose a healthy diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Food sources of vitamins and nutrients are best. Avoid taking large doses of vitamins in pill form, as they may be harmful. For instance, researchers hoping to reduce the risk of lung cancer in heavy smokers gave them beta carotene supplements. Results showed the supplements actually increased the risk of cancer in smokers.
6. Exercise most days of the week. If you don't exercise regularly, start out slowly. Try to exercise most days of the week.