12. PTC: Cancer Types: Liver

12. PTC: Cancer Types: Liver

What is liver cancer?

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Liver cancer is the out-of-control growth of liver cells which is called primary liver cancer. It can also be cancer that spreads from other parts of the body into the liver. Cancer that spreads to the liver from other places in the body is more common than cancer that begins in the liver cells. Liver cancer can affect your body’s ability to filter blood that comes in from the digestive tract before it passes to the rest of your body. It can also affect your body’s ability to detoxify chemicals and drugs. Because the liver is made of different types of cells, there is potential for different kinds of tumors to grow that could be either benign which is not-cancerous, or cancerous. The most common type of liver cancer is Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) which occurs often in people with chronic liver diseases, such as cirrhosis caused by hepatitis B or hepatitis C infections. HCC can start as a single tumor that starts to get bigger and only spreads to other parts of the liver in the late stages of the disease. To learn more about the rarer kinds of liver cancer, look at this website (https://www.cancer.org/cancer/liver-cancer/about/what-is-liver-cancer.html).

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How does liver cancer present?

What symptoms should patients be on the lookout for?

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During the early development of liver cancer most affected individuals have almost no symptoms. When the liver gets swollen, irritated, or inflamed from cancer, people experience some of the following symptoms:

  • loss of appetite,
  • upper belly pain,
  • nausea and vomiting,
  • general weakness and fatigue,
  • weight loss,
  • feeling very full after a small meal,
  • constipation,
  • itching, and/or
  • pain in the abdomen or right side of the body.
    These symptoms might be more obvious as liver cancer gets worse.

Are there any visual signs?

Visual signs may be easier to catch over the subtle symptoms. Some visual signs may include:
  • yellow discoloration of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
  • white and chalky stools
  • swelling or fluid build-up in the abdomen
  • breast enlargement and/or shrinkage of testicles in men
  • looking red or flushed
  • dark-colored urine
    The signs immediately stand out and one should contact their primary physician for a follow up as soon as possible.
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