Liver cancer starts in the cells of your liver. This organ is located in the upper right portion of your abdomen, above your stomach and beneath your diaphragm.
Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common type of liver cancer. It starts in the main type of liver cell, which is called hepatocyte.
Although other types of cells on your liver can develop cancer, it is much less common. However, not all cancers which affect your liver are considered liver cancer. Another area of your body, such as breast, lung or colon can develop cancer and then spreads to your liver, and it is called metastatic cancer.
It is still unknown what causes most liver cancers. However, the cause is known is some cases. For example, a cause of liver cancer can be chronic infection with certain hepatitis viruses. When cell in your body develop mutations of their DNA, the liver cancer occurs. In the early stages of primary liver cancer most people don’t have any symptoms or signs.
However, when symptoms and signs occur, they can include loss of appetite, vomiting and nausea, abdominal swelling, chalky and white stools, losing weight without trying, upper abdominal pain, general weakness and fatigue, and the whites of your eyes and yellow discoloration of your skin. Treatments for liver cancer depend on the stage of the disease and also your overall health, age, and personal preferences.
Treatment options can include freezing cancer cells, heating cancer cells, targeted drug therapy, radiation therapy, injecting chemotherapy drugs into the liver,
injecting alcohol into the tumor, liver transplant surgery, and surgery to remove a portion of the liver. Your risk of liver cancer can be increased by cirrhosis, which is scarring of the liver. However, you can reduce your risk if you drink alcohol in moderation.
If you are drinking alcohol then limit the amount you drink. Men should drink no more than two drinks a day, and women no more than one drink a day. You can also reduce your risk of cirrhosis by maintaining a healthy weight. In case your current weight is normal, make sure to maintain it by exercising most days of the week and choosing a healthy diet. By receiving the hepatitis B vaccine you can reduce your risk of hepatitis B.
This vaccine provides more than 90% protection for adults as well as for children. This vaccine can be given to almost every person, including those with compromised immune systems, older adults and infants. Although vaccine for hepatitis C doesn’t exist, you can still reduce your risk of infection.
Don’t engage in unprotected sex unless you are certain that your partner doesn’t have any sexually transmitted infection, such as HBV or HCV. Also, don’t use intravenous drugs. However, if you do, make sure to use a clean needle. In addition, look for clean, safe shops when you are getting a tattoo or piercing. Needles which are not properly sterilized can spread the hepatitis C virus.