Hepatocellular carcinoma is cancer that starts in the liver.
Primary liver cell carcinoma; Tumor – liver; Cancer – liver; Hepatoma
Hepatocellular carcinoma accounts for most liver cancers. This type of cancer occurs more often in men than women. It is usually seen in people age 50 or older.
Hepatocellular carcinoma is not the same as
In most cases, the cause of liver cancer is scarring of the liver (
Autoimmune diseasesof the liver
Hepatitis Bor Cvirus infection
Inflammation of the liver that is long-term (chronic)
Iron overload in the body (
Patients with hepatitis B or C are at high risk of liver cancer, even if they do not develop cirrhosis.
Abdominal painor tenderness, especially in the upper-right part
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- Enlarged abdomen
- Yellow skin or eyes (jaundice)
Exams and Tests
The doctor will perform a physical exam and ask about your symptoms. The physical exam may show an enlarged, tender liver.
If the doctor suspects liver cancer, tests that may be ordered include:
Abdominal CT scan
Abdominal ultrasound Liver biopsy
- Liver enzymes (
liver function tests)
MRI Serum alpha fetoprotein
Some high-risk patients may get regular blood tests and ultrasounds to see whether tumors are developing.
Treatment depends on how advanced the cancer is.
Surgery may be done if the tumor has not spread. Before surgery, the tumor may be treated with
Radiation treatments in the area of the cancer may also be helpful. But many patients have liver cirrhosis or other liver diseases that make these treatments more difficult.
Ablation is another method that may be used. (Ablate means to destroy.) Types of ablation include using:
- Radio waves or microwaves
- Ethanol (an alcohol) or acetic acid (vinegar)
- Extreme cold (cryoablation)
You can ease the stress of illness by joining a
If the cancer cannot be completely removed, the disease is usually fatal within 3 to 6 months. But survival can vary depending on how advanced the cancer is when diagnosed and how successful treatment is.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you develop ongoing abdominal pain, especially if you have a history of any
- Preventing and treating viral hepatitis may help reduce your risk. Childhood
vaccination against hepatitis Bmay reduce the risk of liver cancer in the future.
- Do not drink excessive amounts of alcohol.
- Persons with certain types of hemochromatosis may need to be screened for liver cancer.
- Persons who have hepatitis B or C or cirrhosis may be recommended for liver cancer screening.