If you, or someone you love, has been diagnosed with cancer, you may not know what to do. Here's a list of tips and ways to cope with a cancer diagnosis.
What Is Liver Cancer?
Cancer that forms in the cells of the liver is also known as hepatocellular carcinoma. It is different from metastatic liver cancer, which spreads to the liver from a different organ of origin. Although it is a very common cancer in most of the world, it is fairly rare in the United States.
Causes of Liver Cancer:
The most common cause of liver cancer is cirrhosis, which is a scarring of the liver. Men are affected by both liver cancer and cirrhosis more often than women. In the US, the disease is most often caused by cirrhosis, usually as a result of alcohol abuse or viral hepatitis.
Those with the following issues are at a higher risk of developing liver cancer:
- Autoimmune liver diseases
- Chronic liver inflammation
- Hemochromatosis (excessive iron levels)
- Wilson’s disease
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
Types of Liver Cancer:
Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common form, starting in the primary liver cells (hepatocytes). Some types of hepatocellular carcinoma begin as a single tumor, but it's more common to see several small tumors all growing at the same time as a result of cirrhosis.
Cholangiocarcinoma forms in the bile ducts of the liver. It is also know as bile duct cancer (cholanglocarcinoma).
Hepatoblastoma forms in the livers of infants and younger children. It is a very rare form of the disease with very high survival rates; over 90% for early-stage treatment of the disease.
Angiosarcoma/hemangiosarcoma form in the blood vessels of the liver. These forms of the disease are very hard to treat, as they are usually not caught until they are too widespread to be effectively removed.
Symptoms of Liver Cancer:
If you are exhibiting the following symptoms, please consult with your physician immediately.
- Swollen or enlarged abdomen
- Pain in the upper right abdomen
- Bruising or bleeding
- White bowel movements
Diagnosis of Liver Cancer:
Your doctor may perform a physical examination to determine if your liver is enlarged or swollen, as well as various blood work to determine if there are any abnormalities. Other tests may include:
- CT scan
- Liver function testing
Treatment for Liver Cancer:
Treatment depends on the extent of the cancer growth, as well as the patient’s age and overall health condition at the time of diagnosis. Early detection is essential, but can be difficult with this form of cancer. The following are possible treatments:
- Surgery to remove the affected area of the liver
- Liver transplant
- Freezing or heating of the cancer cells
- Injection of alcohol or chemotherapy drugs into the tumor
- Drug therapy
Additional Resources For Liver Cancer:
American Cancer Society: 1-800-227-2345
National Cancer Institute: 1-800-4CANCER
American Cancer Society - saves lives and creates a world with less cancer and more birthdays by helping people stay well, helping people get well, by finding cures, and by fighting back. Tons of good links to types of cancer and how to prevent cancer.
National Cancer Institute - coordinates the National Cancer Program, which conducts and supports research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to the cause, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer, rehabilitation from cancer, and the continuing care of cancer patients and the families of cancer patients. Website has links to clinical trials and a comprehensive list of cancer-treating drugs.
Stand Up To Cancer – new initiative created to accelerate groundbreaking cancer research that will get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives. SU2C’s goal is to bring together the best and the brightest in the cancer community, encouraging collaboration instead of competition. By galvanizing the entertainment industry, SU2C creates awareness and builds broad public support for this effort.
Relay For Life – Relay For Life is the signature fundraising event of the American Cancer Society. Links to local ways to get involved with Relay for Life.