Liver is regarded as the power-house in human body. This is located below the diaphragm on the right hand side of the abdomen and plays an important role in the metabolism in our body. It controls blood sugar levels and filters blood. Malfunction of this organ can cause many health problems.
Cancer in the liver begins with the formation of tumor. Tumor gets formed when the liver cells called hepatocytes, cells of the bile duct or the cells lining the blood vessels in the liver multiply in an uncontrolled manner.
Liver cancer can be further classified as primary or secondary cancer. Primary liver cancer starts developing from benign tumors like hemangiomas, hepatic adenomas or focal nodular hyperplasia. This cancer can also be formed by other conditions like chronic kidney disorder, viral infection, hepatitis B or C, and other toxins in the liver. This cancer is further classified into:
• Hepatoma or hepatocellular Carcinoma: The cause is uncontrolled multiplication of hepatocyte cells of the liver. Adults, especially those suffering from liver cirrhosis, are more prone. This condition can occur in children and teens as well and is referred to as ‘hepatoblastoma’. This condition is commonly found in many Americans.
• Cholangiocarcinomas or cancer of bile duct: This cancer of the duct is more common among women.
• Hemangiosarcoma and Angiosarcoma: These two types of cancer are rare. The former commences in the blood vessels. This occurs more in children, who are less than four years of age, and the survival rate is higher than the latter type of cancer since the rate of progression of is slow. The latter starts in the blood vessels present in the liver and its rate of progression is very fast making survival rates lesser.
Secondary liver cancer occurs when the cancerous cells present outside the liver starts to spread. This type of cancer is also referred to as metastatic cancer. Mostly, primary cancer of the liver causes secondary cancer. Other causes can be colorectal cancer, advanced stage of breast cancer, kidney cancer, and lung cancer and so on. Cancer commences from organs, such as stomach, colon or pancreas, and spreads to the liver along with the blood that flows from these organs to the liver. The cancer can also get spread through the lymph system.
Symptoms in the initial stage of cancer may not be apparent. In the advanced stages, the symptoms include fever, fatigue, and weakness, loss of appetite or loss of weight. In secondary cancer, symptoms include enlargement of spleen, lethargy, and discomfort in the stomach or nausea.
Treatments for liver cancer can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, PDT, radio-surgery or immunotherapy.