The most common form of primary liver cancer (cancer that starts in the liver) in adults is called hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). It is a cancer of liver cells. This type of cancer can have different growth patterns. Some begin as a single tumour that grows larger. It may spread to other parts of the liver in later stages of the disease.
Liver cancer may also develop in more than one site in the liver and may grow into multiple tumours. This pattern is most often seen in people with liver cirrhosis.
Another liver cancer is called cholangiocarcinoma. It originates in the small bile ducts which are tubes that carry bile to the gall bladder.
Symptoms, detection and treatments
Symptoms of liver cancer? In the early stages, liver cancer does not cause symptoms. Some common symptoms of advanced liver cancer include:
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Fluid in the abdomen
How is liver cancer detected?
- Blood test to check for increased levels of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP)
- Computer tomography scan (CT)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Are there treatments for liver cancer?
The treatment of HCC depends on the stage and the speed of tumour growth. Small primary cancers of the liver are curable. Cure rates generally decrease as the tumour size increases. Treatment of liver cancer may involve surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy or liver transplantation.