Liver cancer is cancer that begins in the liver. It occurs when liver cells start to change and grow uncontrollably, jamming normal cells. As a result, this makes it difficult for your body to function as expected. The liver produces bile to help your body digest food. It also helps in blood cleansing and clotting wounds.
Liver cancer cells might extend (metastasis) to other areas of your body. However, even though liver cancer reaches the bones, it is still liver cancer and not bone cancer. Also, the treatment will be the same as liver cancer.
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The liver is the largest human internal organ, located above the stomach, just below your right ribs. The liver functions a major role in human survival. You can miss other organs and survive, for instance, one lung, gallbladder, or one kidney, but it is impossible to survive without a liver.
Fortunately, if liver cancer is diagnosed early, there is a possibility of successful treatment. Read up on some surprising facts and myths about liver cancer.
Below are some surprising facts about liver cancer.
Tumor biopsies are the common screening method for many kinds of cancer; however, liver specialists (hepatologists) usually do not perform a test to confirm a liver cancer diagnosis.
Biopsies can be considered in about 10% of liver cancer cases, but most of the time, doctors diagnose them depending on what they get from imaging scans. There are risks associated with a liver biopsy, for example, releasing more cancer cells from the tumor by stimulating it or losing cancer entirely if it is difficult to reach.
If the doctor does not detect the tumor through the biopsy process, the patient may have incorrect test results, which means the test did not show cancer. Where surgery is the treatment alternative, your doctor sends a tumor sample to a cancer specialist for an informative report on the cancer cells and kind of cancer.
Liver cancer is thought as one of the cancers that quickly progress. This might be because of late diagnosis and that most people do seem to live long after the diagnosis.
In about every 90 days, liver tumors double in size. If the cancer tumor is one-centimeter today, it will reach two centimeters in 90 days. Without treatment, cancer will continue growing. When discovered late, or as it continues to multiply every 90 days and much more extensive, it may seem like liver cancer is bearing.
Liver cancer might be primary or secondary. Primary meaning it starts specifically in the liver, while secondary liver cancer results from other body parts, and the cancer cells spread to the liver. Additionally, primary liver cancer includes other types like fibrolamellar HCC, cholangiocarcinoma, angiosarcoma, and Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
Not all types of cancer will reach the liver. Generally, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancer are the most common ones. For those having secondary liver cancer, tests may show “spread breast cancer to their liver.” In such a case, the secondary liver tumor does not contain liver cancer cells but breast cancer cells.
Cirrhosis is a possible risk factor for generating primary liver cancer. The majority of individuals with liver cancer have cirrhosis, whether or not they’ve already been diagnosed.
Excessive alcohol consumption is what most individuals believe to be the leading cause of liver cirrhosis. Cirrhosis may result from obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, drugs, infections, viruses, like hepatitis, and excessive alcohol intake, among many.
Sometimes liver cancer is discovered early by chance, for example, if the doctor asks for screen tests for other objectives and finds it. But typically, liver cancer is discoverable once the cancer cells have spread quite far and signs have started.
Symptoms of liver cancer include:
• Swollen abdomen,
• Stomach or abdominal pain
• Unintentional weight loss fatigue
• Feeling full after having less food
Among other liver cancer options, liver transplantation is one of them; however, the patient must be fit and robust enough for the procedure.
For an effective transplant, liver cancer must be in its early phases. Liver cancer can also treatable using other methods, which include:
• Targeted therapy
• Radiofrequency ablation that kills cancer cells by heating them up
• Radiation beads, implanted into the liver through surgery
• Chemotherapy, direct drug injection into the tumor
• Cryoablation, which freezes cancer cells to kill them
• Surgery to remove the tumor
Palliative care is therapies and treatments that help control liver cancer symptoms. However, they are not intended to cure it. Nevertheless, patients using palliative care can still go for treatments that at least slows cancer or those crafted to kill it down.
Palliative care teams monitor pain intensities and offer quality of life treatment. Based on the prognosis, it may be received for just a few weeks or even much longer.
Liver cancer can be inherited. Suppose one of your relatives (first-degree) has liver cancer. In that case, the possibility of you developing it is relatively higher than that of someone without a close relative having liver cancer.
If you think that you are at risk, screening is advisable. Furthermore, those that have liver disease are also advised to undergo screening as they are at a high risk of liver cancer. Blood tests and liver ultrasound twice a year are common recommendations.
Following are some common liver cancer misconceptions and the truths about them.
The truth about liver cancer or liver disease problems is that they remain silent until they advance. They tend not to be painful because there are no pain nerves inside of the liver. As a result, people may feel no pain yet having masses. By the time people start to see some symptoms, liver cancer is significant and progressed.
Several things might damage your liver. Although alcohol consumption is one of them, there are other causes of liver cancer disease. The leading cause of liver disease is fatty liver disease, and hepatitis C. Hepatitis C causes inflammation of your liver and may even lead to severe liver damage as it is a viral infection.
The type of drink does not matter; it’s the amount of alcohol you take. Additionally, having high-quality alcoholic beverages will not make alcohol any less harmful. It would be best if you stuck to a moderate quantity of alcohol, which is not the same with all people.
Some people may consume an incredible quantity of alcohol without developing liver cancer.
Fitness and food have an impact on overall human health; this includes liver health. Diets that are rich in calories and fewer exercises might increase liver cancer risks.
Obesity, which relates to fatty liver disease, can be controlled through exercise and diet. Having the right diet will help you to decrease the risk of having liver cancer.
Eating fresh vegetables and fruits, not smoking, controlling your alcohol consumption, and exercising may help you avoid liver problems.
While not all instances of hepatitis C result in liver cancer, it is among the leading cause of liver cancer. With Hepatitis C, your risk of developing liver cancer is much higher.
The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate some supplements, and thus you should be more careful as you go for supplements. Many of them might damage your liver which may eventually cause liver cancer.
Some therapies might not heal your cancer; hence, the need to have care and treatment from your doctor. As time goes on, you will be required to have tests to assess how your treatment is working.
Having liver cancer and coping with the treatments can be challenging; however, there may also be a chance to reflect on your new life in other ways.
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