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Liver Cancer *Liver cancer can be a primary cancer, meaning it starts in the liver, or a secondary cancer, meaning it starts

in another part of the body and spreads to the liver. Secondary liver cancers are more common than primary liver cancers. *The liver is the largest organ inside the body. It is located on the right side of the abdomen and protected by the ribcage. The liver will function normally with only a small portion of it in working order. Its functions include: Destroying harmful substances, such as alcohol, and getting rid of waste products Converting food containing fats and sugars to energy that is used by the body Producing bile to help with the digestion of food.

Two types of cancer that affect the liver: 1. Primary cancer first begins in the liver and may spread to other organs. The most common primary cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma. 2. Metastasized cancer of the liver comes originally from another part of the body. Cancer cells can easily travel from another affected organ to the liver because of the role the liver plays in filtering the blood. Some of the most common cancers that spread to the liver are from the colon, pancreas, stomach, lung, and breast.

Risk Factors in Developing Liver Cancer: Gender -Men are more likely to develop liver cancer than are women. Age -In North America, Europe and Australia, liver cancer most commonly affects older adults. In developing countries of Asia and Africa, liver cancer diagnosis tends to occur at a younger age between 20 and 50. Chronic infection with Hepatitis B Virus or Hepatitis C Virus -Long-term hepatitis B and hepatitis C infection are linked to liver cancer because they often lead to cirrhosis. Hepatitis B can lead to liver cancer without cirrhosis.

Cirrhosis -Cirrhosis is a disease in which liver cells become damaged and are replaced by scar tissue. People with cirrhosis have an increased risk of liver cancer. Certain inherited liver diseases -Liver diseases that can increase the risk of liver cancer include hemochromatosis and Wilson's disease. Type 2 diabetes -has been linked with an increased risk of liver cancer, usually in patients who also have other risk factors such as heavy alcohol use and/or chronic viral hepatitis. This risk may be increased because people with type 2 diabetes tend to be overweight or obese, which in turn can cause liver problems. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease -is a condition where fat builds up in the liver, causing inflammation and damage similar to that caused by heavy alcohol consumption. Exposure to aflatoxins -Consuming foods contaminated with fungi that produce aflatoxins greatly increases the risk of liver cancer. Crops such as corn and peanuts can become contaminated with aflatoxins. Excessive alcohol consumption -Consuming more than a moderate amount of alcohol daily over many years can lead to irreversible liver damage and increase your risk of liver cancer. Obesity -Being obese (very overweight) increases the risk of developing liver cancer. This is probably because it can result in fatty liver disease and cirrhosis.

Signs and Symptoms Symptoms often don't appear in the early stages of liver cancer. There are few nerves through the liver, so someone with this type of cancer does not feel pain. Symptoms are the same for both primary and secondary liver cancer. In later stages, liver cancer can cause an ache in the upper abdomen or back. Rather than feeling pain in the liver, it is felt in the surrounding area due to distension (swelling), irritation or inflammation of the liver.

Other symptoms include loss of appetite, weakness and loss of weight (particularly loss of muscle in the arms and legs), nausea, fever and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes). The abdomen may also be swollen. Others: Itching all over the body hard lump just below the rib cage dark-coloured urine clay-coloured bowel movements

Diagnosis of Liver Cancer To make the diagnosis, a thorough medical history must be taken, followed by a physical examination. Liver cancer is usually diagnosed with a number of different tests, which may include: Blood tests that measure tumour markers -- substances elevated in the presence of a particular cancer -- can aid diagnosis. Liver cancers secrete a substance called alpha fetoprotein (AFP) that is normally present during pregnancy but goes away after birth. An elevated AFP in adults may indicate liver cancer. Imaging with ultrasound and CT scans may reveal existing tumors, but only a biopsy will distinguish a benign tumor from a malignant one. Laparoscopy - through a small incision, the doctor inserts a small, thin tube called a laparoscope, which allows viewing of the liver and surrounding organs Angiography - a dye is injected into the veins and its progress through the liver is tracked by Xray Chest X-rays to see if the cancer has spread