What is liver cancer? What are the symptoms and treatment methods?

Liver cancer

Liver cancers are malignant tumors that arise from the organ’s own tissue. The incidence of the disease varies regionally. While the disease is an important public health problem especially in regions where Hepatitis B infection is common, it is a less common type of cancer in developed countries where vaccination is performed effectively. It is more common in men than in women. Hepatocellular carcinoma originating from hepatocyte, the functional cell of the liver, constitutes approximately 90% of liver cancers. The remainder are tumors called cholangiocarcinoma that mostly originate from the bile ducts inside the liver. Metastases are the most common tumors in the liver. Metastasis is when cancer in another organ or tissue spreads to the liver. Cancers in almost any part of the body can spread to the liver.


Liver cancer symptoms

Many patients with liver cancer do not have any symptoms in the early period. Therefore, follow-up is very important for early diagnosis, especially in high-risk patients such as cirrhosis, even if there is no complaint. Liver cancers are usually abdominal bloating, yellowing of the skin, itching, pain starting from the upper right part of the abdomen and hitting the back, sudden weight loss, loss of appetite for weeks, feeling of fullness and bloating after eating despite eating very little food, fever, sweating at night, sudden worsening in general health, urine. It manifests itself with signs of jaundice such as darkening in color and pale colored stools. Although most of these symptoms are severe symptoms, they are not the differential symptoms for liver cancer because all of them can be caused by another condition, such as an infection.



Liver cancer causes and risk factors

Although the cause of liver cancer is not known precisely, there are some diseases or substances that are thought to be responsible for the disease and increase the risk significantly. Hepatitis B and hepatitis C virus and being a virus carrier are the most important underlying causes. Liver cancer can occur years after such viral infections have been seen. You can pass the disease without complaints of hepatitis viruses, and only with blood tests it can be understood that you have had the disease. Wound caused by liver cirrhosis (5% of cirrhosis patients have liver cancer risk), liver adenoma, some carcinogenic substances in food, some drugs and metabolic diseases such as hemacromatosis, intake of anabolic steroids, fatty liver, family history of liver cancer, cereals poisons called aflatoxin produced by living mushrooms called Aspergillus, smoking, arsenic, which is a poison in drinking water, diabetes, being overweight, having a weak immunity and using some types of birth control pills, alcohol (1 in 3 cases of liver cancer) i occurs due to alcohol) is among the causes of liver cancer.


How is liver cancer detected?

Although the chance of early diagnosis in liver cancer is very low, it is possible to catch the disease before it progresses to advanced stages with regular controls, especially in high-risk patients. The diagnosis of the disease can be made by ultrasonography, computed tomography and magnetic resonance. In addition, an alphafeutoprotein test is also performed.


Liver cancer treatment

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common liver cancer and different treatment options are available. Surgical treatment is the most beneficial treatment method for patients. Removal of part of the liver to include tumors or liver transplantation are treatment options. What is important in the surgery is that the liver that will be left behind is of sufficient quality and size for the patient. Chemotherapy, radiotherapy, methods in which the tumor is burned (ablation therapy) or nuclear medicine treatments with microspheres can be applied in tumors where surgery is not suitable or in patients who are thought to be unable to handle these major surgeries.

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