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
Nausea followed by vomiting
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:
Chronic infection with hepatitis B or hepatitis C increases the risk of liver cancer.
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.