Liver Cancer

Liver cancer ranks number 3 in cancer caused death world wide. Liver cancer is the growth of cancer in the liver. If the cancer is from liver cells, it is called hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), which accounts for the most of the liver cancers. Cancer grows from the bile duct is called cholangiocarcinoma. If the cancer is from somewhere outside of the liver, but migrates into the liver, it is called metastatic liver cancer, which can be colon cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, etc. Here, we mainly discuss about HCC.

Hepatocellular carcinoma

  • HCC is more frequently found in Africa and Asia than in other parts of the world. It is uncommon in the United States. The most common causes and risk factors of hepatocellular carcinoma are:
  • Older age
  • Cirrhosis
  • Gender. Men are more likely to develop liver cancer than are women
  • Chronic hepatitis B or the hepatitis C virus infection
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Malnutrition
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Certain inherited liver diseases. Such as hemochromatosis, Wilson's disease, etc.
  • Some toxins and chemicals. Such as Aflatoxin, which is a toxin from a type of fungus that often found in wheat, soybeans, peanuts, corn, and rice in certain area of the world; Arsenic, which is toxic chemical; etc.
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Family history of liver cancer

Symptoms and signs

Patient with HCC maybe asymptomatic, especially in the beginning. The most common symptoms are:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Yellow skin or eyes (jaundice)
  • Itchiness
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Enlarged abdomen

Diagnosis and treatment

  • CT or MRI are usually diagnostic for most of HCC if it has typical features.
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • CT
  • MRI
  • Liver biopsy

Treatment is based on the tumor size, patient’s health condition, spreads of the tumor, etc. Common treatments methods are:

  • Cryosurgery
  • Ethanol ablation
  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Transarterial chemoemboli (TACE)
  • Radiation therapy
  • -External radiation therapy
  • -Internal radiation therapy
  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy with Sorafenib
  • Liver transplant


  1. PubMed Health.
  2. Wikipedia.
  3. Mayo clinic online health information.
  4. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease- by Mark Feldman MD, et al.
  5. The Little Black Book of Gastroenterology-by David W. Hay.
  6. Principles of Clinical Gastroenterology by Tadataka Yamada, et al.