The liver, the largest organ inside the body, is the multipurpose factory of the body. It breaks down and stores nutrients from the intestines, manufactures agents that clots blood on wounds, secretes bile that absorbs nutrients, and removes toxins and waste from the body. Tumors develop from abnormal cell growth in liver tissues. These tumors can be malignant or benign. When cancer cells become malignant, they can spread to other organs in the body.
The National Cancer Institute says that, in 2009, an estimated 22,620 are expected and they expect an estimated 18,160 deaths. Multiple liver cancer symptoms occur to let individuals they have cancer. Like many forms of cancer, various risk factors make people more susceptible to liver cancer. Some of these risk factors include genetic conditions, hepatitis, low birth weight, and cirrhosis of the liver caused by alcohol, medications, and other toxins.
Liver Cancer Symptoms
Liver cancer signs and symptom vary from one person to another; however, people recognize general symptoms of liver cancer. Many of the common symptoms of liver cancer occur in upper abdominal regions. Abdominal pain indicates that a person has developed a large tumor in the liver. Other liver cancer symptoms that affect the stomach include sudden abdominal swelling and bloating known as ascites, nausea, and vomiting.
Another sign that a person has liver cancer is jaundice, a condition that causes yellowing of the skin and the white of the eyes. People who consume large amounts of alcohol experience muscle wasting. Other physical signs and symptoms of liver cancer include unexplained weight loss and fever, itchy skin, swollen veins, and an enlarged spleen. Once doctors run various tests and diagnose these symptoms, they administer various liver cancer treatments, depending on the stage of the cancer.
Liver Cancer Treatments
Chemotherapy is a traditional liver cancer treatment in which a combination of chemotherapeutic drugs is injected into the body. This drug combination shrinks large cancer tumors. Doctors sometimes combine chemotherapy with other medical treatments in order to increase success rates. Chemotherapy treatments lead to unpleasant side effects like vomiting and nausea, lethargy and hair loss.
Radiation Therapy is used by doctors to treat dividing cancer cells. Unlike chemotherapy, radiation therapy attacks only cancer cells and those surrounding it. New advances in radiation therapy have helped reduce the damage done to healthy liver cells.
Surgical Resection is an invasive liver treatment in which cancerous sections of the liver and surrounding tissue are removed. This treatment is only suggested when patients have small localized tumors and have no signs of liver cirrhosis. One drawback to this form of treatment is that, if the person has inadequate amounts of liver, they could experience liver failure.
Liver Transplantation occurs when damage caused by liver cancer becomes so advanced that the organ cannot be saved. This liver cancer treatment becomes a viable option for people who are showing signs of liver failure, but the cancer has not yet spread to other areas of the body. However, in the United States, approximately 18,000 people are waiting for livers, and medical professionals have to determine which patients deserve available livers.
Early detection is the best defense for fighting liver cancer. People, though, must recognize the signs and symptoms of liver cancer. Many of them are hard to detect because they mimic common medical conditions. However, many people have access to a number of liver cancer treatment options that may stave off the spread of this deadly form of cancer.