Liver cancer refers to a malignant condition wherein the hepatocytes, or liver cells, start dividing abnormally. Cancer that originates in the liver is less common compared to cancer that spreads to the liver from other organs. Smoking and alcohol consumption are two of the biggest risk factors for liver cancer.
Types of Liver Cancer
Primary liver cancer comes in three forms:
- Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC): It is the most common liver cancer, making up almost all liver cancer cases.
- Intrahepatic cancer (IHC): IHC is a cancer of the bile ducts of the liver. It makes up about 10% to 20% of all cases of primary liver cancer.
- Angiosarcoma: This type of liver cancer is extremely rare, accounting for only about 1% of all primary liver cancer cases. It starts in the lining of the liver’s blood vessels. Angiosarcoma can also affect other parts of the body.
At HCG Manavata Cancer Center, we have some of the best liver cancer specialists in Nashik who have excellent experience in treating and managing various types of liver cancer.
Symptoms of Liver Cancer
When symptoms do manifest, they may include the following:
- Weight loss
- Upper abdominal cramps
- Feeling tired and lethargic
- Abdominal swelling
- White, chalky feces
Causes of Liver Cancer
Alterations (mutations) in the DNA of liver cells lead to liver cancer. Hepatocellular carcinoma, which is the most common type of primary liver cancer, usually occurs in livers that occur due to birth defects, drinking too much, or long-term infections with diseases like hepatitis B and C, hemochromatosis (a hereditary disease associated with too much iron in the liver), and cirrhosis.
Following are some of the risk factors for liver cancer. These are:
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Inherited liver disease
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Chronic infection with HBV or HCV
- Exposure to aflatoxin
Diagnosis of Liver Cancer
Liver cancer can be diagnosed through the following techniques:
Blood tests: Doctors may use blood tests to check for cancer using biomarkers for liver function.
Ultrasound (Sonography): This examination produces images of the structures of soft tissues. Ultrasounds are used to look for a tumor in the liver.
Computed tomography (CT) scan: This special type of X-ray provides information about the size and location of liver tumors by providing detailed images of the liver.
Biopsy: In a liver biopsy, doctors take out a small piece of liver tissue to look for signs of cancer. Biopsies are the best way to confirm that someone has liver cancer.
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): ERCP looks at bile ducts using an endoscope and a catheter, which are thin, flexible tubes.
Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography (PTC): A PTC is similar to an ERCP because it takes X-rays of the bile ducts. Instead of an endoscope and catheter, the doctor will use a needle to put contrast dye into the bile ducts and liver. Most of the time, a PTC is only done on people who can’t get an ERCP.
Treatment of Liver Cancer
HCG Manavata Cancer Center is one of the best liver cancer treatment hospitals in Nashik, Maharashtra, and it houses some of the most advanced treatment options available for liver cancer. Various treatment options are available for liver cancer management.
Surgery: Surgery is the most commonly used treatment for liver cancer.
- Liver transplantation surgery: During a liver transplant, the diseased liver is replaced by a healthy liver.
- Surgical tumor removal: The surgeon removes the affected portion of the liver and healthy tissues in this procedure.
Area-specific treatments: Localized liver cancer treatments are delivered directly to the cancer cells or the area around them. Localized treatment options for liver cancer include:
- Adding heat to cancer cells: Radiofrequency ablation uses electricity to heat and kill cancer cells.
- Freezing cancerous cells: Extreme cold is used in cryoablation to kill cancer cells.
- Intra-tumor injection of alcohol: During alcohol injection, pure alcohol is injected directly into tumors, either through the skin or during surgery.
- Hepatic chemotherapy: Chemoembolization is a type of chemotherapy that involves the administration of drugs directly into the liver.
Radiation therapy: This treatment kills cancer cells using high-powered radiation beams, such as X-rays and protons. Radiation therapy could be an option if other treatments are not possible or have not worked. Small beads full of radiation could be put straight into the liver, killing cancerous cells.
Targeted drug treatment: Targeted drug treatments are based on the fact that cancer cells have certain specific vital processes. Targeted drug treatments can kill cancer cells by interfering with these vital processes. This therapy may be used in advanced liver cancer.
Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is a way to fight cancer by boosting the immune system. The immune system might not be able to attack cancer cells because the cancer cells make proteins that make the immune system cells unable to recognize them.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy involves the use of medications that kill cancerous cells. Chemotherapy can be administered either orally or intravenously.
Supportive (palliative) care: Palliative care is specialized medical care that manages symptoms in people with advanced liver cancer. Palliative care can be combined with surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is liver cancer an inherited condition?
There is a low incidence of developing liver cancer in people whose one or both parents have liver cancer. However, it is important that if the parents of people have liver cancer, they should undergo liver cancer screening at least once a year.
2. Is surgery the only option for liver cancer?
Surgery is a common way to treat liver cancer, but it is not the only option. There are several other effective therapies, such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy.
3. Do I need to start treatment for my liver cancer right away?
It is necessary to initiate the treatment as soon as possible to prevent cancer from spreading to other tissues. Acting as soon as possible gives you more options in this situation.
4. How long can you live if you have cancer of the liver?
The prognosis of liver cancer depends upon several factors, including the stage at which the disease is diagnosed, the age of the patient, and the response to treatment. Early detection and timely treatment can lead to good survival rates.