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The liver is a critical organ as it plays a vital role in body metabolism and digestion. Liver diseases are a challenge for medical professionals, as often, these symptoms are not obvious until the disease has progressed to quite an advanced stage. In most cases, diagnosis in the early stage is very difficult, which can help in early intervention and disease arrest. It is not just the disease, but the causes and treatment of liver cancer are also surrounded by myths.
Read on to know some of the myths and facts about liver cancer.
- Liver cancer is caused by alcohol: This is one of the most common myth, which is not true. While alcohol definitely has a role to play in liver cancer, not all victims are alcoholics. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) which puts a person at risk for liver cancer is not related to alcohol and is seen in people who are obese, diabetic, high cholesterol and have no connection with alcohol. There is also no correlation between the amount of alcohol and the severity of liver damage. However, stopping alcohol consumption altogether definitely helps in improving liver condition.
- Liver cancer can be detected on routine tests: While abnormal protein levels on routine blood tests indicate abnormal liver, it is most often ignored and does not get diagnosed further. However, this should be taken up in detail and should be diagnosed. Early diagnosis greatly improves prognosis and can reduce treatment costs significantly. The chances of liver regeneration also would be greatly improved.
- Routine medications can lead to liver cancer: Liver plays a very important role in metabolism, and most drugs are liver-toxic. Taken over a period of time, they can cause incremental damage and lead to liver cancer. Some are more toxic than others, so asking for the effect of liver is always a good question.
- Cirrhosis is a precursor to liver cancer: This is definitely true, as left untreated, liver cirrhosis can lead to cancer. The added danger is that cirrhosis also is a silent disease, with often no symptoms and gets detected quite late. Periodic tests for cirrhosis in a patient who has a family history and alcohol consumption is a must.
- Lifestyle has no connection to liver cancer: Absolutely wrong. A good healthy lifestyle including healthy weight, good portions of fresh fruits and vegetables, proper exercise, minimal alcohol use, and no smoking helps not just the liver but overall health. These play a cumulative effect on liver health, and having a good lifestyle, can help in delaying onset even in a person who is predisposed to cirrhosis and/or liver cancer through family history.
Liver cancer is definitely a silent killer, but keeping eyes open definitely, helps.
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