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Liver Cancer

Liver cancer

Liver Cancer

Liver cancer is a cancer that initiates in the cells of the liver called hepatocytes. The exact cause of liver cancer is unknown but most are associated with liver damage known as cirrhosis.


Liver Cancer Causes

Liver cancer can be caused by excessive alcohol intake over a number of years, having the long term viral infections hepatitis B or C, a liver disease called primary biliary cirrhosis, which damages bile ducts in the liver, and haemochromatosis, an inherited disorder causing a slow build up of iron levels.

Being overweight or obese can elevate risk.


As with many liver conditions, the symptoms may be slow to emerge and are often only noticeable after the liver damage has reached an advanced stage.

They can include unexplained weight loss, feeling sick and vomiting, feeling full after eating even a small meal, jaundice, itchy skin, feeling weak and tired.


A patient should see a GP after experiencing any of the symptoms and may be referred to a hepatologist with specialized knowledge of liver conditions.

A blood test and range of imaging scans – ultrasound, CT and MRI – can show how the liver is functioning and detect stiffness and scarring.


Cancer Research UK states the 42 per cent of liver cancer cases is preventable as they are linked to avoidable lifestyle factors. If it is diagnosed early, the cancer may be totally removable.

A surgical resection of the liver – removing part of it – can be performed if the cancer is small and no major blood vessels are involved. A lobectomy to remove a lobe of the liver can be effective as the liver can grow back and work normally after surgery providing there are no underlying medical problems.

Radiofrequency ablation which uses radio waves, delivered a by a probe into the tumour, to kill cancer cells. This is particularly effective if you have several small tumours that cannot be removed with surgery.


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