What is liver cancer? causes and risk factors

What is liver cancer? causes and risk factors

What is liver cancer
What is liver cancer ?

The liver is responsible for the continuous filtering of the blood flowing in the body. It also converts nutrients and drugs that are absorbed in the digestive system into ready-to-use chemicals. The liver has other important functions, including removing toxins and other chemicals from the blood and transforming them into excretions.

It is easy for cancer cells to reach the liver, as all the blood flowing through the body passes through it.

Thus, it is possible for the liver to develop primary cancer in which it forms itself, or cancer that forms elsewhere in the body and then metastasizes to the liver. In most cases, liver cancer is secondary or metastasis, meaning that the source of the cancerous tumor It is found elsewhere in the body.

Worldwide, primary liver cancer affects twice as much men as women. It is the most common cancer among men, and mostly affects people over 50 years of age.

*** Types of liver tumors.

The liver is made up of many types of cells, so there are many tumors that can affect it.

Some tumors are benign, while others are malignant tumors that can metastasize to other places in the body. Different tumors develop for different reasons and are treated in different ways, and the chances of recovery depend on the type of tumor, here is an explanation of these tumors :

1. Benign liver tumors

The most common benign liver tumors are:

  • Hemangioma.
  • Adenoma in the liver.
  • Focal neoplastic process.
  • Cyst.
  • Leiomyoma.
  • Lymphoma.
  • Fibroma.

Treatment for these tumors differs from treatment for carcinoid tumors, sometimes when they cause pain or bleeding they need to be surgically removed.

2. Types of liver cancer

The types of liver cancer are:

  • Hepatocellular carcinoma.
  • Cancer of the gallbladder ducts.

*** Symptoms of liver cancer.

Symptoms of liver cancer include:

  • Yellowing of the skin, pallor and jaundice.
  • yellowing of the whites of the eyes;
  • Anorexia.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Feeling tired and exhausted.
  • A mass on the right side of the abdomen.
  • Feeling of flu symptoms.

*** Causes and risk factors of liver cancer

Primary liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma) usually occurs in people who have:

  • Congenital abnormalities of the liver.
  • People who drink excessively.
  • People with chronic infection stemming from other diseases, such as: hepatitis C and type B, hemochromatosis, as well as cirrhosis.
  • More than 50% of people with primary liver cancer have cirrhosis that is caused by the above factors.

*** Carcinogens that cause liver cancer.

Several carcinogens are among the most important causes of primary liver cancer, including:

  • Some herbicides.
  • Some chemicals, such as: vinyl chloride (vinyl chloride) and arsenic.
  • Smoking, especially when combined with excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Alpha toxin A carcinogen produced by a certain type of fungus that may lead to disease. Alpha toxin is sometimes found in wheat, pistachios, rice, corn, or soybeans.


Other factors that influence the development of liver cancer include:

  • patient's gender.
  • weight.
  • Use of steroids.

*** Complications of liver cancer.

Complications of liver cancer are the following:

  • Anemia.
  • bleeding;
  • Portal hypertension.
  • High level of calcium in the blood.
  • Hepatic encephalopathy.

*** Diagnosis of liver cancer.

Imaging tests are not widely used for all patients in order to detect primary liver cancer, but it is possible to perform these tests for people at high risk of infection, although research has not been able to determine if imaging is appropriate and effective for all patients.

In order to diagnose liver cancer, it is first necessary to rule out the presence of other diseases that may have the same symptoms.

*** Screening for liver cancer

Other additional checks include:

* Blood tests

These tests measure tumor markers, which are substances that are elevated in the blood when you have liver cancer, and can help determine the diagnosis.

Liver cancer secretes a substance called alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), which is generally found in fetuses and disappears at birth.

* Ultrasound scan

It is the first examination that is generally performed; This is because it can detect tumors about 1 centimeter in size.

* Computed tomography (CT - Computed tomography) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI - Magnetic resonance imaging)

These examinations can detect existing tumors and aid in their classification and staging, but they often give false positive results.

* Biopsy

It is the only examination capable of distinguishing between a benign tumor and a malignant one.

* Laparoscopy

It is an effective examination to detect small tumors, or to determine the circumference of cirrhosis in the liver, or to take a sample for biopsy, and so on.

*** Liver Cancer Treatment

All types of liver cancer are among the diseases that are difficult to treat. In a few cases, primary liver cancer is detected at an early stage, which is the stage when the chances of treatment are good. Secondary liver cancer is also difficult to treat. This is because the cancer in this case has spread and metastasized.

In addition, the complex networks of blood vessels and bile ducts in the liver complicate the operation of the surgery.

Liver cancer treatment is based on improving the patient's feeling and trying to prolong his life, which is as follows:

1. Surgery

Tumors found in the early stages can be removed with surgery, and patients whose tumors are found in the early stages have the greatest chance of a cure.

Unfortunately, in most cases of liver cancer, surgery cannot be performed. This is because the cancer is at an advanced stage, or the injury is too severe to survive surgery.

2. Chemotherapy

In certain cases, tumors can be reduced in size by chemotherapy, which can then be removed by surgery.

There is no evidence that chemotherapy after surgery increases the patient's chances of survival. Patients who have successfully treated and whose disease has regressed to a state of remission should remain under close observation and follow-up, in order to ensure that the disease does not recur.

3. Cryotherapy

A treatment method during which the tumor is frozen and cauterized by radio waves in order to get rid of the tumor, a method that can be used in certain cases of liver cancer.

4. Radiation therapy

These treatments can be implemented in a number of ways, but they have limitations. Due to the reduced ability of the liver to tolerate radiation, radiation is used to relieve symptoms outside the liver or to relieve pain in the liver by shrinking the tumor.

5. Liver transplant

It is a reserved option for treating patients with both hepatocellular carcinoma and cirrhosis, and there is a high risk in this procedure but also a chance of recovery.

Advanced liver cancer involves the use of a single, concentrated treatment. The spread of cancer can sometimes be stopped and pain relieved by the use of chemotherapy and low-dose radiotherapy, but the effectiveness of this type of treatment for this cancer is, however, low.

6. Treatment of various pains

Most patients receive a combination of strong pain relievers and medicines to relieve nausea and bloating, or to improve appetite.

Sorafenib is the first drug to achieve a very significant improvement in the general condition of patients with advanced liver cancer that cannot be treated with chemotherapy.

7. Treatments still under clinical research

People with advanced liver cancer can choose to join clinical research to examine newer therapies, including freezing tumor cells for the purpose of exterminating them, and using biological agents such as interferon or interleukin 2 to stimulate the organ system. Immunotherapy can attack cancer cells by using synthetic proteins specifically designed to kill specific tumors.

***Prevention of liver cancer

The following are ways to prevent liver cancer:

  • Drink alcohol in moderation and not excessive.
  • Maintain a healthy and healthy weight.
  • Take vaccinations against hepatitis C.
  • Treating liver problems directly.
  • Undergo periodic examinations.

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