Liver cancer and symptoms of Liver cancer
Most of the people are suffering in the word with various types of cancer. Though treatment is available and almost every type of cancer is curable know with advance technologies and instruments but the battle to fight this disease is really difficult. Most of the people lose hope. However, history bears the witness that there were many people who in spite of suffering from serious diseases like cancer never gave up and lead their life like do normal people. They never let their cancer to become hurdle in the way of their success. Cancer may affect any of the body part. So it can also affect liver like many other organs and when it effects and attacks liver it is known as liver cancer.
What is Liver cancer?
Liver cancer is the disease that starts in the liver. In liver cancer cancerious cells which are abnormal, defective and undiffrenciated start to develop in the liver. These cells are often called Malignant or cancerous cells which arise out of liver cells and are also called as hepatocellular carcinoma. A type of liver cancer that arises in the duct of the liver is called as cholangiocarcinoma.
Causes of Liver cancer:
Some other chronic diseases or disorders might become the cause for developing liver cancer. It scars the liver and increases the risk ofliver cancer. Following are the conditions that cause liver cancer:
- Use of alcohol.
- Hepatitis C.
- Hepatitis B
The cause of liver cancer might be linked to environmental, dietary, and lifestyle factors. In 2014, researchers in the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, found out that long-term exposure to compounds like triclosan, which is a common ingredient used in soaps and detergents, causes liver fibrosis and cancer in laboratory mice. Though triclosan compound has not been proven to cause human liver cancer, it is still under scrutiny by the FDA to determine whether it has negative health impacts or not.
Stages of liver cancer:
The staging system for primary liver cancer has 4 main stages.
- Stage 1 liver cancer.
- Stage 2 liver cancer.
- Stage 3 liver cancer.
- Stage 4 liver cancer.
- Stage 4 A liver cancer.
- Stage 4 B liver cancer.
Stage 4 liver cancers is further divided into 2 groups or subtypes that is stage 4A and stage 4B. Stage 4 A means the liver cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. Stage 4B means to say that the cancer in this stage has spread to some other organs in the body, like as the lungs or in the bones.
Risk factors for Liver cancer:
Rates of hepatocellular cancer are still rising in the United States because of increased prevalence of cirrhosis caused by chronic hepatitis C and non alcoholic fatty liver.
Cirrhosis defect of liver is due to any cause and is a risk factor for liver cancer. The risk factors for developing liver cancer in cirrhosis are:
- Being male.
- Having age 55 years or older,
- Your race being Asian or Hispanic ethnicity.
- Family history in a first degree relative.
- Hepatitis B.
- Hepatitis C.
- Use of alcohol.
- Increased amount of iron in the blood.
Who treats Liver cancer?
A doctor who treats liver disorders and cancers is called Gastroenterologist.
Symptoms of Liver cancer:
Malignant tumors of the liver are commonly metastases, or areas of distant spread, from tumors that arise elsewhere in the body. Such tumors are not true liver cancers. They are named by their site of origin, like as lung cancer. True liver cancers are arising in the liver. Symptoms of liver cancer are listed below:
- Weight loss.
- Loss of appetite.
- Abdominal swelling.
- Yellowish discoloration of the skin.
- Whiteness of the eyes.
- enlarged and tender liver
- White colored stools.
Diagnosis of Liver cancer:
Following tests are carried out to check and examine the liver in order to look for the evidence of liver cancer.
Many blood tests are conducted to check various aspects of blood and blood cells. Following are the blood tests that are carried out for diagnosis.
Complete blood count:
We have established the fact earlier that, leukemia is caused due to increase in count of white blood cells or leukocytes occur beyond the normal level which are abnormal cells. Therefore in order to diagnose acute myeloid leukemia, complete blood count (CBC) will be carried out. If white blood count is within the range of 4000 to 11000 then the patient has not developed leukemia, otherwise if white blood cells count is greater than 11000 per milliliter, patient will be suffering from leukemia. In this test, blood samples are taken from vein.
Blood chemistry and coagulation tests:
Tests measure the amounts of chemicals in the blood and blood clotting ability. These tests also examine liver and kidney, if in reports some problems are detected then they might be due to leukemia. Patient is further subjected to more tests to check for the evidence liver cancer.
It is performed on sample tissues which are taken from the lesion in the liver. These sample tissues are analyzed by a pathologist ( who works in laboratory) to confirm the suspected diagnosis of liver cancer. It is is not needed in each and every case, specially if the imaging study and lab markers are characteristic for liver cancer. Risks factors for liver biopsy are infection, bleeding, or seeding of the needle track with cancer. Seeding is done when cancer cells get on the needle used for a biopsy and spread to other areas touched by the needle. This type of liver cancer carries the added risk of seeding, the liver biopsy needle track in 1% to 3% of cases. In case when liver biopsy is inconclusive, a repeat imaging study is recommended at three- to six-month intervals.
Treatment of Liver cancer:
The choice of treatment option among wide range of options depends upon how been the cancer has spread and the overall health of the liver. For instance, the extent of cirrhosis of the liver can also determine the treatment options for the cancer. On the same way, the spread and extent of spread of cancer beyond the liver tissue may play an important part in the determination of treatment options.
Liver cancer can be treated in most of cases with surgery in order to remove the part of liver with cancer. Such type of Surgical options are reserved for smaller sizes of cancerous tumors.
The liver specialist doctor replaces the cancerous liver with the healthy liver from another healthy donor or person. It is commonly used in very small unrespectable (not able to be removed) liver tumors in the patients with advanced cirrhosis.
This is a procedure that may kill cancer cells in the liver without any use of the surgery. The doctor can also kill cancer cells using heat, laser, and by injecting a special alcohol or acid directly into the cancer place. This method or technique can be used in palliation when the cancer is unresectable.
It is procedure where blocking of the blood supply to the cancer can be done using this procedure and it is called embolization. This type of technique makes use of a catheter so that it can inject particles or beads that can block the blood vessels that feed the cancer in the liver. Starving the cancerous cells out of the blood supply prevents the growth of the cancerous cells and is found effective in treatment and cure of cancer. This technique is commonly used on patients who are with large liver cancer for palliation.
Radiation therapy makes use of high energy rays or radiations like waves that are directed to the cancer in order to kill cancer cells.
This type of therapy also known as chemo makes use of a medicine that kills cancer cells. Medication in chemotherapy is in the form of drugs. The medication or the drugs can be given either by mouth or by injecting it into the vein.
Sorafenib is an oral medication or drug that can prolong the survival that is up to 3 months in patients with advanced liver cancer stage.
Survival rate of Liver cancer:
The prognosis for liver cancer depends on many factors like as the size of the liver cancer, the number of lesions in the liver, the presence of spread beyond the liver like in other organs it has spread, the health of the surrounding liver tissue, and the overall health of the patient.
The five year survival rate for all stages of the liver cancer is 15%. One of the reason for this low survival rate is that many of the people with liver cancer also can have other underlying medical conditions like as cirrhosis. But, the five year survival rate can vary depending up on how much the liver cancer has spread to other organs of the body.
If the liver cancer is localized that is if it is confined to the liver, its five year survival rate is 28 percent. But if the liver cancer is regional that is it has grown to nearby organs and areas then in such a situation its five year survival rate is 7 percent. However, once the liver cancer is distant that is it has spread to distant organs, areas or tissues) the five year survival rate is as low as two years.
Survival rate can also be affected by the available treatments. Liver cancers that can be surgically removed have an improved five-year survival rate of over 50%. When caught in the earliest stages, and the liver is transplanted, the five-year survival rate can be as high as 70%.