Liver Cancer occurs when the cells in the liver look or function abnormally and eventually develop into cancer or it could be caused by the spread of cancer cells from other areas to the liver. Most liver cancers are caused by the latter. People with liver cancer often show no symptoms until they get very large, which is a difficult stage to treat.
Liver cancer symptoms
Liver cancer often has no signs or symptoms in its early stages. Until when cancer develops to a certain stage, symptoms can be observed as follows.
- Weakness and Tiredness
- Fever and itching
- Pain in the upper abdomen, Often pain on the right side
- Swelling in the abdomen or feel a lump under the right hemisphere due to an enlarged liver
- May feel a lump on the left hemisphere due to an enlarged spleen
- Yellow skin and eyes (jaundice)
- The stools may appear pale in color
- Weight loss for unknown reasons
- Do not want food, feel full even after eating a little.
- Nausea and vomiting
Causes of liver cancer
Liver cancer arises when the DNA in the liver cells is mutated and the cellular structure changes. As a result, the cells grow abnormally and eventually develop into tumors. The root cause of this change is not yet clear. But there are risk factors for liver cancer as follows.
Sex, was found to have a higher incidence of liver cancer in males than in females.
The patient has other related diseases or can develop into liver cancer, including:
- Chronic hepatitis from hepatitis B and hepatitis C, which can permanently damage the liver and cause liver failure.
- Cirrhosis: More than half of people with liver cancer have cirrhosis.
- Liver cancer may be associated with obesity and fatty liver disease that is not caused by drinking alcohol.
- A rare hereditary liver disease is excess iron in the liver. (Hemochromatosis) copper congestion in the body (Wilson’s Disease)
- Exposure to Aflatoxins, which are substances caused by fungi from poorly stored corn kernels or peas, causing mold. Food contaminated with fungi is therefore a risk of getting this toxin and developing liver cancer. Some areas in Africa and Asia may be found to be contaminated by this type of fungus.
- Excessive alcohol consumption, The habit of consuming large amounts of alcohol over several consecutive days poses a constant risk of liver damage, and the risk of developing cancer cells.
- Smoking: People who already have hepatitis and who smoke are at higher risk of liver cancer.
- Exposure to hazardous chemicals from herbicides such as Vinyl Chloride and Arsenic that may be found in ponds that do not meet safety standards, Over a long period of exposure, it may accumulate until many subsequent diseases, not even liver cancer.
- The use of anabolic steroids, which are male hormones often used by athletes to gain muscle. If used for a long time, the risk of liver cancer. Including other cancers.
- Race: Asian, American, and Pacific Islander cirrhosis were found. More often than other nations.
Diagnosis of Liver Cancer
Initially, the doctor will ask the patient’s history and risk factors for developing liver cancer. Then examine the body by touching or tapping on the stomach to check the liver, After that, additional tests are sent for an accurate and clear diagnosis. There may be methods as follows.
- Blood tests to check for liver cancer (Alfa-fetoprotein: AFP) is a method for determining the value of proteins produced by liver tumors. It can detect liver cancer in up to 70 percent of patients. In which patients with liver cancer have an AFP value higher than normal.
- Liver imaging, Ultrasound diagnosis Computed tomography or CT scan, or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine. So that doctors can clearly see where the cancer is and the amount of blood that comes to nourish it. With this examination, it is often difficult to find lesions or lesions that are smaller than 1 centimeter.
- A liver biopsy is performed by taking a sample from a suspected tumor in the liver for further testing whether it is cancerous or not. In the event that the imaging and lab results are certain to have liver cancer, there is no need for a liver biopsy for further testing. This can risk infection, bleeding, or spreading cancer to other areas that have been punctured. There is a 1-3 percent chance of transmission of the infection through the needle, and if this type of test is not yet definitively diagnosed, The doctor may repeat imaging tests. By spacing for 3-6 months.
Liver Cancer Treatment
How liver cancer is treated depends on the stage, symptoms, and spread of cancer. Your doctor will advise you on possible treatment. By considering the age and health of the patient It also depends on the patient’s satisfaction.
In the beginning, When the tumor is still small and in a very small part of the liver, treatment can be performed by surgically removing a piece of cancerous tissue. Normally, liver cells can regenerate themselves. It is possible that a large biopsy will not have serious consequences for the patient’s health.
But there are many liver cancer patients whose ability to regenerate liver cells is much worse. This surgery may be unsafe.
Surgery to remove the tumor is performed during general anesthesia. But this may be followed by complications. Including bleeding after surgery, have an infection, leg arteriosclerosis and pulmonary embolism, pulmonary embolism, bile leaks from the liver, liver failure, jaundice can be a side effect of anesthesia. After surgery, The doctor must monitor the patient’s condition continuously and it takes several months for the patient to fully recover.
Liver replacement surgery
The doctor will replace the donor liver for the patient’s cancer. This method can be used to treat early-stage liver cancer patients with small and few tumors. Otherwise, it will increase your risk of developing cancer again.
However, a liver replacement carries a risk of bleeding or infection after surgery. Pneumonia, anesthetic side effects Including anti-liver changes Infection due to the inactivity of the immune system as a result of medication that must be taken after surgery.
High-energy radiation treatments, such as X-rays and protons, are directed to the cells to destroy cancer cells and shrink the tumor. Radiation can easily affect normal cells in the liver and the surrounding areas. Including the body may experience fatigue, nausea, and vomiting.
It is an oral medication or an injection to kill cancer cells into a vein or artery or to remove cancer cells. Undergoing chemotherapy, each patient may have different side effects depending on the response of the patient and the type of medication. Such as easy bruising, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, hair loss, swollen legs, sore mouth, and diarrhea, which are usually temporary.
Killing cancer cells by injecting the substance directly into the tumor. The injected substance can be heat, laser, acid, or special alcohol or may use radio waves This method can be used to treat symptoms. In cases where surgery cannot be performed.
Targeted Drug Therapy
It is a method of using drugs to slow or inhibit the growth of liver cancer cells. More specifically, the cells with abnormalities than conventional chemotherapy.
Complications of liver cancer
In addition to the symptoms expressed by patients with liver cancer and complications arising from the aforementioned treatment. Liver cancer can also spread to other organs, such as lymph nodes or distant organs, or result in internal bleeding such as in the digestive tract and tumors can rupture It can also be severe, leading to liver failure. Which often occurs in the late stages of liver cancer.
Liver cancer prevention
Self-prevention of liver cancer can be done by reducing various risk factors that may cause liver cancer. Cirrhosis is a disease that is highly related to liver cancer. Because it causes lesions in the liver, it is at high risk of developing liver cancer cells.
The prevention of liver cancer should reduce factors that may lead to cirrhosis, including drinking moderately moderate alcohol. Keep exercising, keeping your weight from getting too much weight by eating healthy foods, and reduce the amount of fat consumed. Also, be careful using chemicals that may be harmful and the risk of cirrhosis that follows.
Not only is cirrhosis, but other diseases, such as infection with hepatitis B and hepatitis C, can increase your risk of developing liver cancer.
Hepatitis B prevention is achieved with the hepatitis B vaccine, which is more than 90 percent effective in preventing it and can be injected at any age. Whether it’s a child, infant, adult, the elderly, or even someone with weakened immune systems. As for hepatitis C, there is currently no vaccine to prevent infection.
Avoiding both infections from others is also achieved by ensuring good hygiene, such as using condoms every time you have sex with a partner at risk of hepatitis B infection, not sharing needles with a person. another Including needles that are used to tattoo on the body Choose a tattoo shop that ensures cleanliness and hygiene, etc.
In addition, another way that may be done is to undergo a cancer screening. But this method may not reduce or prevent the development of liver cancer. It only makes patients aware at an early stage by the AASLD (The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases) recommended that people who think they are at risk of liver cancer or have any of the following conditions undergo liver cancer testing.
- Patients with cirrhosis after the congestion of bile.
- Patients infected with hepatitis C with cirrhosis.
- People infected with hepatitis B and have other risk factors such as Asian or African. Have cirrhosis or have a family history of liver cancer.
- Patients with cirrhosis from other causes such as self-allergy, drinking too much alcohol, fatty liver disease, hereditary disease, such as excessive iron in the liver.