Liver Cancer (Hepatocellular Carcinoma)
John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.
- Liver cancer facts
- What is liver cancer?
- What is metastatic liver cancer?
- What causes liver cancer?
- What are the risk factors for liver cancer? Is liver cancer hereditary?
- What are liver cancer symptoms and signs?
- How is liver cancer diagnosed?
- How is liver cancer staged?
- What is the medical treatment for liver cancer?
- What is the follow-up after treatment for liver cancer?
- What is the prognosis of liver cancer? What are the survival rates for liver cancer?
- Are there alternative and complementary therapies for liver cancer?
- Can liver cancer be prevented?
- Where can you learn more about liver cancer?
- Find a local Doctor in your town
Liver cancer facts
- Most people who get liver cancer (hepatic cancer) get it in the setting of chronic liver disease.
- Incidence rates of hepatocellular cancer are rising in the United States due to increasing prevalence of cirrhosis caused by chronic hepatitis C and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
- There are many treatment alternatives for liver cancer. The treatment chosen depends upon how much the cancer has spread and the general health of the liver and the overall health of the patient.
What is liver cancer?
Liver cancer definition
Primary liver cancer is a condition that happens when normal cells in the liver become abnormal in appearance and behavior. The cancer cells can then become destructive to adjacent normal tissues, and can spread both to other areas of the liver and to organs outside the liver.
Malignant or cancerous cells that develop in the normal cells of the liver (hepatocytes) are called hepatocellular carcinoma. A cancer that arises in the ducts of the liver is called cholangiocarcinoma.
What is metastatic liver cancer?
Metastatic cancer is cancer that has spread from the place where it first started (the primary site) to another place in the body (secondary site). Metastatic cancer in the liver is a condition in which cancer from other organs has spread through the bloodstream to the liver. Here the liver cells are not what has become cancerous. The liver has become the site to which the cancer that started elsewhere has spread. Metastatic cancer has the same name and same type of cancer cells as the original cancer. The most common cancers that spread to the liver are breast, colon, bladder, kidney, ovary, pancreas, stomach, uterus, breast, and lungs.
Metastatic liver cancer is a rare condition that occurs when cancer originates in the liver (primary) and spreads to other organs (secondary) in the body.
Some people with metastatic tumors do not have symptoms. Their metastases are found by X-rays or other tests. Enlargement of the liver or jaundice (yellowing of the skin) can indicate cancer has spread to the liver.
What causes liver cancer?
Most people who get liver cancer get it in the setting of chronic liver disease (long-term liver damage called cirrhosis), which scars the liver and increases the risk for liver cancer. Conditions that cause cirrhosis are alcohol use/abuse, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
The causes of liver cancer may be linked to environmental, dietary, or lifestyle factors. For example, in Nov. 2014, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, found that long-term exposure to triclosan, a common ingredient in soaps and detergents, causes liver fibrosis and cancer in laboratory mice. Although triclosan has not been proven to cause human liver cancer, it is currently under scrutiny by the FDA to determine whether it has negative health impacts.
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