Liver Cancer : All You Need To Know About

Divya Tripathi

, Health A2Z

Cancer is a disease that can afraid to anyone. Yes, it’s true that cancer can be cured but the treatment process is not as simple. It is one of the most common types of cancer all over the world. It becomes very important to know all aspects of this type of cancer. So, let’s explore all the details about liver cancer that can help us to prevent ourselves from such a deadly disease.


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Know About Liver Cancer


Liver cancer includes two types hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma). Risk factors for HCC include chronic infection with hepatitis B or C and cirrhosis of the liver.


Know Your Liver


Do you know that the liver is the largest internal organ! It lies under your right ribs just beneath your right lung. It has two lobes (sections).


Your liver is the organ made up mainly of cells called hepatocytes. It also has contained some other types of cells well, including cells that line its blood vessels and cells that line small tubes in the liver called bile ducts. The bile ducts carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder or directly to the intestines.


It is important to understand the function of your liver because you cannot live without it:

the basic function of the liver is to breaks down and store many of the nutrients absorbed from the intestine that your body needs to function. Some of the broken nutrients must be metabolized in the liver before they can be used for energy or to build and repair body tissues.

It makes most of the clotting factors that keep you from bleeding too much when you are cut or injured.

It used to deliver bile into the intestines to help absorb fats nutrients.

The function of the liver is used to breaks down drugs, alcohol, and toxic wastes in the blood. The waste needs to pass from the body through urine and stool.

Various liver cells can form several types of cancerous and non-cancerous tumors. These tumors have different causes, are treated differently, and have a different prognoses.


Get Aware of the Simple Ways to Prevent Cancer


Cancer prevention is a way to reduce the chance of getting cancer. We can reduce the number of new cases of cancer by preventing cancer. Hopefully, this will lower the number of deaths caused by cancer.

Factors that can increase your chance of developing cancer is called cancer risk factors. Protective factors may help you to reduce the risk of cancer, but it doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer.

We can avoid some of the risk factors but all the factors cannot be avoided. For example, as we all know that smoking and inheriting certain genes both are risk factors for some types of cancer, but only smoking can be avoided while genes cannot be.

A healthy diet and regular exercise may help to prevent some types of cancer. Avoiding risk factors and increasing Different ways to prevent cancer are being studied, including:


  • Eating habits or changing lifestyle.
  • Avoiding things that can cause cancer.
  • Taking medicines to treat a precancerous condition or to keep cancer from starting.

Risk Factors that can Lead to Liver Cancer


There are some conditions that can increase your chance of getting liver cancer. Some risk factors, like smoking, can be changed. Others, like a person’s age or family history, can’t be changed.

But having a risk factor, or even several risk factors does not mean that you will get the disease. And some people who get the disease may have few or no known risk factors.

There are some general factors that can increase a person’s chance of getting a hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).




Gender plays an important role to spread cancer. Hepatocellular carcinoma is common in men as compared to women. This difference occurs because of the behaviors affecting some of the risk factors described below. The fibrolamellar subtype of HCC is more common in women.




In the United States, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have the highest rates of liver cancer, followed by Hispanics/Latinos, American Indians/Alaska Natives, African Americans, and whites.


Chronic viral hepatitis


One of the most common risk factors for liver cancer is chronic infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV). The hepatitis B and C infections can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and are responsible for making liver cancer the most common cancer in many parts of the world.


Both hepatitis B & C can spread from person to person through sharing unprotected sex, contaminated needles, or childbirth. They can also be passed on through blood transfusions, although this is very rare in the United States since blood products are tested for these viruses. In developing countries, children sometimes contract hepatitis B infection from prolonged contact with family members who are infected.


HBV is more likely to cause symptoms, such as a flu-like illness and jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin). But most people recover completely from HBV infection within a few months. Only a very small percentage of adults become chronic carriers (and have a higher risk for liver cancer). Infants and small children who become infected have a higher risk of becoming chronic carriers.




It is one of the common diseases in which liver cells become damaged and are replaced by scar tissue. People who are dealing with cirrhosis have an increased risk of liver cancer. Most (but not all) people who develop liver cancer already have some evidence of cirrhosis.

There are several possible causes of cirrhosis. Most cases of the condition occur in people who abuse alcohol or have chronic HBV or HCV infections.


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease


It is also a common condition that can lead to cancer, it usually occurs in obese people. People with a subtype of this disease, known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), might go on to develop cirrhosis.


Primary biliary cirrhosis


There are some autoimmune diseases that affect your liver that can also cause cirrhosis. For an instance, in primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) the bile ducts in the liver are damaged and even destroyed which can lead to cirrhosis. People who are dealing with advanced PBC have a high risk of liver cancer.


Inherited metabolic diseases


Some of the inherited metabolic diseases can lead to cirrhosis. Hereditary hemochromatosis is a  condition, people who have it can absorb too much iron from their food. The iron settles in tissues throughout the body, including the liver. If enough iron builds up in the liver, it can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer.


Heavy alcohol use


Alcohol abuse is one of the leading causes of cirrhosis, which in turn is linked with an increased risk of liver cancer.


Tobacco use


Smoking is one of the known risk factors for liver cancer. Former smokers have a lower risk than current smokers. Both of them are at a higher side of risk than those who never smoked.




Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of developing liver cancer. This is probably because it can result in fatty liver disease and cirrhosis.


Type 2 diabetes


Type 2 diabetics have a higher risk of developing liver cancer, usually in patients who also have other risk factors such as heavy alcohol use and/or chronic viral hepatitis. This risk may also be increased because people with type 2 diabetes tend to be overweight or obese, which in turn can cause liver problems.


Certain rare diseases


Diseases that increase the risk of liver cancer include:


  • Tyrosinemia
  • Alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency
  • Porphyria cutanea tarda
  • Glycogen storage diseases
  • Wilson disease
  • Aflatoxins

Possible Treatments for the Liver Cancer


Treatments for liver cancer completely depend on the condition of the disease. Some other factor also plays an important role such as your overall health age, and personal preferences.




There are various types of surgeries that doctor can use to treat liver cancer according to an individual’s condition include:


Surgery to remove the tumor


In certain situations, your doctor may recommend an operation to remove the liver cancer and a small portion of healthy liver tissue that surrounds it if your tumor is small and your liver function is good.

Whether this is an option for you also depends on the location of your cancer within the liver, how well your liver functions, and your overall health.


Liver transplant surgery


During liver transplant surgery, your diseased liver is removed and replaced with a healthy liver from a donor. Liver transplant surgery is only an option for a small percentage of people with early-stage liver cancer.


Localized treatments


Localized treatments for liver cancer are those that are administered directly to the cancer cells or the area surrounding the cancer cells. Localized treatment options for liver cancer include:

Heating cancer cells. Radiofrequency ablation uses electric current to heat and destroy cancer cells. Using an imaging test as a guide, such as ultrasound, the doctor inserts one or more thin needles into small incisions in your abdomen. When the needles reach the tumor, they’re heated with an electric current, destroying the cancer cells. Other procedures to heat the cancer cells might use microwaves or lasers.

Freezing cancer cells. Cryoablation uses extreme cold to destroy cancer cells. During the procedure, your doctor places an instrument (cryoprobe) containing liquid nitrogen directly onto liver tumors. Ultrasound images are used to guide the cryoprobe and monitor the freezing of the cells.

Injecting alcohol into the tumor. During alcohol injection, pure alcohol is injected directly into tumors, either through the skin or during an operation. Alcohol causes the tumor cells to die.

Injecting chemotherapy drugs into the liver. Chemoembolization is a type of chemotherapy treatment that supplies strong anti-cancer drugs directly to the liver.

Placing beads filled with radiation in the liver. Tiny spheres that contain radiation may be placed directly in the liver where they can deliver radiation directly to the tumor.


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Radiation therapy


This treatment uses high-powered energy from sources such as X-rays and protons to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors. Doctors carefully direct the energy to the liver, while sparing the surrounding healthy tissue.

During external beam radiation therapy treatment, you lie on a table and a machine directs the energy beams at a precise point on your body.


Targeted drug therapy


Targeted drug treatments focus on specific abnormalities present within cancer cells. By blocking these abnormalities, targeted drug treatments can cause cancer cells to die.




Immunotherapy uses your immune system to fight cancer. Your body’s disease-fighting immune system may not attack your cancer because the cancer cells produce proteins that blind the immune system cells. Immunotherapy works by interfering with that process.


Immunotherapy treatments are generally reserved for people with advanced liver cancer.




Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill rapidly growing cells, including cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be administered through a vein in your arm, in pill form, or both.


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