Liver Cancer: Stages and Outlook

The liver, situated under the ribs and below the right lung, is one of the most vital organs of the human body. Its primary function is the production of bile fluid that is responsible for absorbing fat, store nutrients, breaking down toxins, and control internal bleeding. Then, all the toxins are ready to be eliminated from the body through stool or urine.

The liver filters the blood and circulates in all the internal organs, and one of the deadliest medical conditions that affect this organ is Liver Cancer. This terminal disease is of two types, primary and secondary. Primary cancer initiates from the cells of the liver, while secondary cancer is the one that spreads from another organ.

Types of Liver Cancer

Some common types of liver cancers are

  • Benign Cancer – These tumors will grow over time, but will not spread to other organs.
  • Hemangioma – This is a tumor that needs treatment only in case of bleeding.
  • Hepatic Adenoma – This is also a form of benign tumor that can be removed through surgery.
  • Focal Nodular Hyperplasia – This type of cancer involves tumors formed of different kinds of cells like bile duct, liver, and other tissue cells.
  • Hepatocellular Carcinoma – One of the most common types of cancer that initiate in the liver because it starts with a single tumor.

Symptoms of Liver cancer

Though the symptoms of liver cancer are quite common, regular screening can help you identify them

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Pain, tenderness, and discomfort in the abdomen
  • Chalky, white stools
  • Yellowing of eyes and skin

Causes of Liver Cancer

What are the factors that give rise to liver cancer?

  • Congenital disabilities
  • Excess consumption of alcohol
  • Hemochromatosis
  • Hepatitis B & C
  • Cirrhosis
  • Obesity
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Liver failure

Stages of Liver Cancer

The liver cancer stages can be bifurcated into:

  • Very Early Stage – This is a stage in which the tumors are not more than 2 cm. Bilirubin levels seem to be healthy in this stage. A surgical procedure can treat it.
  • Early Stage – The size of the tumor is less than 5 cm. Though the pressure on the portal vein is not much, liver functions can be affected. Treatment options for this stage are surgery, liver transplant, and Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA).
  • Intermediate Stage – This is a stage where either the size of the tumor is large or are multiple. Recommended treatments are topical therapies like trans-arterial chemoembolization.
  • Advanced Stage – This is the last stage of liver cancer that has already conquered the portal veins. There are possibilities that cancer has also spread to other body parts like bones, lungs, and nodes. Target therapy is the only treatment option at this stage.

Treatment Options for Liver Cancer

The treatment for this deadly disease depends upon the size, number, and location of the tumors. The presence of cirrhosis in the body, along with the current condition of the liver, are also considered in determining the appropriate treatment option. Here are some treatment options for liver cancer:

  • Hepatectomy – This surgery is performed to either remove a part of the liver of the entire organ.
  • Liver Transplant – The entire organ is replaced with a healthy liver. But this treatment option is given only when cancer has not spread to other body parts.
  • Ablation – Doctors destroy the cancer cells with the help of ethanol injections or heat. This procedure is performed with the help of local anesthesia to keep the area numb.
  • Chemotherapy – This is an advanced treatment option in which medicines are injected through the veins. The patient might experience some side-effects like chills, vomiting, and reduced appetite.
  • Radiation Therapy – High energy radiation is targeted at the tumor to damage the cancer cells permanently. Both internal and external radiation can be given under this treatment option.
  • Targeted Therapy – This therapy is given to restrict tumor growth and permanently stop the blood supply to it. This treatment option is given to the patients who cannot go for liver transplant and hepatectomy.
  • Chemoembolization and Embolization – These are basically surgical processes that are conducted to block the hepatic artery. The doctor might use sponges and other particles in this surgery.

There are many possible liver cancer treatment options. In the meanwhile, you need to maintain a positive approach throughout the process. Maintain a healthy lifestyle and stay away from drinking and smoking. Regular medical screening can help you in overcoming this deadly disease.

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