The liver is located in the right side of the abdomen. It stores and metabolizes nutrients, and filters and stores blood. Liver cancer is the growth of cancer cells in the liver.
Cancer occurs when cells in the body divide without control or order. If cells keep dividing uncontrollably, a mass of tissue forms. This is called a growth or tumor. The term cancer refers to malignant tumors. They can invade nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body.
The cause of liver cancer is not known. Research shows that certain risk factors are associated with the disease.
Factors that increase you chance of liver cancer include:
CT scan—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of the inside of the liver
MRI scan—a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of the inside of the liver
Laparoscopy—a thin, lighted tube inserted through a small incision in the abdomen to look at the liver
Biopsy—removal of a sample of liver tissue to test for cancer cells
Once liver cancer is found, staging tests are done. This will help find out if the cancer has spread and, if so, to what extent. Surgery is the only curative procedure in liver cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can reduce symptoms associated with the cancer. They are not considered curative by themselves.
Surgery—removal of the cancerous tumor and nearby tissue, and possibly nearby lymph nodes
Cryosurgery—destroys tumors by freezing them with a metal probe
Ethanol ablation—kills cancer cells by injecting alcohol directly into the tumor
—the use of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may be:
External radiation therapy—Radiation directed at the liver from a source outside the body
Internal radiation therapy—Radioactive materials placed into the liver in or near the cancer cells
Chemotherapy—drugs enter the bloodstream and travel through the body to kill mostly cancer cells and some healthy cells; may be given by pill, injection, and via a catheter directly into the liver
(Nexavar, Bayer/Onyx)—a new class of therapies targeting vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGF); used for advanced liver cancer, in one study improved overall survival from median 7.9 months to 10.7 months
Biological therapy—the use of medications or substances made by the body to increase or restore the body's natural defenses against cancer; also called
biological response modifier (BRM) therapy
To reduce your risk of getting liver cancer:
If you use needles to inject medication or drugs, always use a clean needle. Do not share needles with anyone else.
Use condoms when having sexual intercourse if you or your partner is not in a monogamous relationship or if you don't know if your partner has hepatitis.
Have children vaccinated against hepatitis B.
Drink alcohol in moderation. This means no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a