Liver cancer is a deadly disease caused by the growth and spread of unhealthy cells in the liver. Liver cancer is classified into two categories: primary and metastatic liver cancer. The former type is defined as the cancer which starts in the liver, while the later one is the cancer starting in another part of the body to spread to the liver.
Every year, there are 30,000 people are diagnosed with primary liver cancer in the United States. This number is predicted to keep increasing in the following years.
What is the liver?
The liver is obviously the largest organ inside your abdomen and it is located behind your ribs on the right side of your body. This organ is responsible for many important functions to maintain your survival:
– Removing harmful substances from the blood.
– Producing enzymes and bile for food digestion.
– Converting nutrients into substances needed for life and growth.
– Maintaining a proper sugar level in the body.
Risk factors for liver cancer
– Long-term hepatitis B and hepatitis C virus infection: Liver cancer will possibly develop after many years being infected with either of these viruses.
– Heavy alcohol consumption: The use of more than two drinks of alcohol daily over several years increases the risk of many dangerous diseases including the cancer of liver.
– Cirrhosis: Cirrhosis is known as a serious disease in which liver cells are damaged and replaced with scar tissue. The presence of scar tissue in your liver may put you at higher risk involved with the cancer of liver.
– Obesity and diabetes: Researchers have pointed out that obesity and diabetes may be other important risk factors for liver cancer cases.
– Exposure to aflatoxins: Liver cancer can be caused by aflatoxin, is a type of poisonous chemical made by certain molds which grow in soil, decaying vegetation, hay, and grains. In Asia and Africa countries, the levels of aflatoxin is high, however, due to safety regulations to limit aflatoxin contamination, it is less common in the United States.
– Iron storage disease: Liver cancer may occur among people who have suffered from a disease in which there is too much iron stored in the liver and other organs within the body.
Symptoms of liver cancer
In the early stages of liver cancer, most patients don’t notice signs and symptoms of this disease. When the cancer becomes more severe, people may realize one or more of these common symptoms:
– Unexplained weight loss and appetite.
– Pain in the upper abdomen on the right side.
– General tiredness and weakness.
– Nausea and vomiting.
– Abdominal swelling.
– Yellow discoloration of your skin and eyes, dark urine from jaundice.