Liver Cancer or Hepatic cancer
Liver cancer symptoms mostly occur at later stage, followed by a treatment for hepatitis B infection, hepatitis C infection or cirrhosis. As a result, people carrying the hepatitis virus should perform regular screenings and tests.
What is liver cancer?
In our geographical region, hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) represent a common health issue. As a result, people carrying the hepatitis blood virus or suffering from chronic liver disease, should carefully and frequently monitor their health, since the risk of developing liver cancer is high.
What are the symptoms?
At its early stage, liver cancer often doesn’t cause symptoms, hence is called the silent tumor. Subsequently, a pain in the right area of the abdomen can occur, followed by severe abdominal pain, weight loss and swollen abdomen in the later cancer stage.
How is it diagnosed?
Imaging tests are performed in diagnozing liver cancer. The tumor can be revealed by ultrasound, CT scan (computer tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Likewise, diagnosing liver cancer can be performed by blood tests measuring the level of alpha fetoprotein (AFP) tumor marker.
How is it treated?
A complete removal of the liver cancer is performed by surgery. Surgery to remove the tumor (resection) is recommended with patients having normal liver function. In cases when patients need a liver transplant, surgery can also be performed. In addition, surgery is also recommended with patients suffering from cirrhosis. Patients who cannot have surgery are treated by other invasive methods, such as chemoembolization. By this method, a drug is injected directly into the hepatic artery, thus limiting the cancer growth. This method is highly tolerable by patients. Other alternative methods include: injecting alcohol into the tumor, radiofrequency ablation (RFA) and cryotherapy. Using these methods, the malignant tumor is reduced by heat, tissue cooling or chemical influence. Chemotherapy is frequently used with other types of cancer, although not highly effective with liver cancer.
What are the risk factor?
After treatment, the cancer may reoccur, or in some cases, the patient can develop hepatitis or cirrhosis. Therefore, the patient's condition should be constantly monitored. Liver tissue is monitored by CT scan (computer tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). In the case of appearance of a new malignant mass, another surgery or localized treatment is suggested. Patients who had undergone a liver transplant should be constantly monitored in order to exclude the possibility of recurrence of the disease.