Liver cancer is cancer that begins in the cells of your liver. Your liver is a football-sized organ that sits in the upper right portion of your abdomen, beneath your diaphragm and above your stomach. Several types of cancer can form in the liver. The most common type of liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma, which begins in the main type of liver cell (hepatocyte). Other types of liver cancer, such as intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma and hepatoblastoma, are much less common.
The liver can be affected either by primary liver cancer which arises in the liver, or secondary or metastatic cancer, which originates elsewhere in the body. Primary liver cancer tends to occur when the liver is damaged in the form of cirrhosis (a scarring condition of the liver), certain birth defects, alcohol abuse, chronic infection with diseases such as hepatitis B and C, hemochromatosis, obesity and fatty liver disease amongst others.
Symptoms of Liver Cancer:
- Pain in the upper abdomen on the right side or near the right shoulder blade
- Enlarged liver (hepatomegaly) felt as a mass under the ribs on the right side
- Abdominal swelling (ascites) or bloating in the abdomen that develops as a mass
- Jaundice, which appears as yellowing of the skin and eyes and occurs when the liver is not functioning properly
- Weight loss not associated with changes in diet
- Decrease in appetite or a feeling of fullness after a small meal
- Nausea and vomiting not associated with other known conditions
- General weakness and/or fatigue that is persistent, ongoing weakness or fatigue
History of Cancer: Some of the earliest evidence of cancer is found among fossilized bone tumors, human mummies in ancient Egypt, and ancient manuscripts. Abnormalities suggestive of the bone cancer called osteosarcoma have been seen in mummies. It dates back to about 3000 BC. The papyrus describes the condition as “incurable”.
About Oncology: The term oncology literally means a branch of science that deals with tumours and cancers. Oncology is a sub-specialty of medicine dedicated to the investigation, diagnosis and treatment of people with cancer or suspected cancer. It includes preventative medicine, medical oncology (chemotherapy, immunotherapy, hormone therapy and other drugs to treat cancer), radiation oncology (radiation therapy to treat cancer), surgical oncology (surgery to treat cancer), and palliative medicine.
Types of Cancer: Doctors divide cancer into types based on where it begins. Four main types of cancer are:
- Carcinomas: A carcinoma begins in the skin or the tissue that covers the surface of internal organs and glands. Carcinomas usually form solid tumors. They are the most common type of cancer. Examples of carcinomas include prostate cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancer.
- Sarcomas: A sarcoma begins in the tissues that support and connect the body. A sarcoma can develop in fat, muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, blood vessels, lymph vessels, cartilage, or bone.
- Leukemias: Leukemia is a cancer of the blood. Leukemia begins when healthy blood cells change and grow uncontrollably. The 4 main types of leukemia are acute lymphocytic leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, and chronic myeloid leukemia.
- Lymphomas: Lymphoma is a cancer that begins in the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a network of vessels and glands that help fight infection.