Liver cancer, also known as hepatic cancer is a disease that develops in the liver cells. Cancerous can start growing in the liver and can also spread from other organs to the liver. It’s more common for cancer to metastasize from nearby organs, than for cancer to develop in the liver itself. Some of the common symptoms of this disease include abdominal pain, especially in the upper right quadrant, loss of weight, fatigue, yellowish skin, ascites and so on. This disease has various causes. Example of diseases and conditions that could lead to the development of this disease include infections like hepatitis, excess and prolonged consumption of alcohol. There are different forms of liver cancer, some of them include hepatocellular carcinoma, cholangiocarcinoma and so on. Physicians diagnose this disease by evaluating the signs and presenting symptoms of the patient. In addition, further tests are carried out to confirm the diagnosis. Some of these tests include imaging tests, blood tests, to examine the liver enzyme level, and liver tissue biopsy. A biopsy is a gold standard for the diagnosis of this disease. Some of the ways of preventing this disease are by treating those affected with Hepatitis B and C, and also immunizing them against Hepatitis B. Scientists are working on cancer stem cell models as a possible way of tumorigenesis. This could lead to the development of drugs that could eliminate this type of cancer in the future
What Are The Warning Signs Of Liver Cancer?
The number of people diagnosed has been on the rise over the years. A study has shown that about one in 105 men and one in 195 women would be diagnosed with liver cancer during their lifetime. The signs and symptoms of this disease are often unclear. Most people realize they have the disease, after having reached the advanced stage of liver cancer. This is why it’s important to know the warning signs of the disease. The earlier the disease is diagnosed, the better the prognosis. Below are some of the signs you should never ignore;
- Loss of weight: People affected with this disease tend to lose a lot of weight. Most times, the person involved wouldn’t understand why he/she is losing so much weight. This condition is also known as cachexia. The reason behind this is the rapid and uncontrolled proliferation of the tumor The tumor cells use up the nutrients that should be available for healthy body cells. This eventually leads to the patient losing a lot of weight within a short period of time. You should consult your physician as soon as you realize you’re losing a lot of weight without a specific reason.
- Pruritus: This is also known as itchy skin. This occurs due to the impairment in the functions of the liver. Itchy skin is one of the early signs of liver cancer.
- Abdominal discomfort: Patients affected by liver cancer do experience pain. This pain occurs in the location of the liver, at the right upper quadrant.
- Fatigue: This is also one of the early symptoms of liver cancer. Patients get tired easily, even without doing stressful work, or any activity that takes a lot of effort. The fatigue doesn’t go away, even after taking proper
- White and chalky stool: The color and consistency of people with liver cancer changes. This can be attributed to the impairment of the liver.
- Loss of appetite: People affected by liver cancer tend to lose their appetite. This is due to the pain they experience in the abdomen. In addition, they usually feel too sick to want to eat.
People affected with these warning signs should consult their physicians immediately. The earlier the disease is diagnosed and treated, the better the prognosis. The prognosis is usually bad when liver cancer is diagnosed when it’s at the advanced stage.
What Are the Causes of Liver Cancer?
The exact cause of liver cancer isn’t known in most situations. However, the causes of some are known. Infections like hepatitis can lead to the development of liver cancer if not well managed. In addition, genetics play a significant role in the development of the disease. Mutations in the DNA of liver cells can lead them to start proliferating without control, which would eventually form a tumor.
What Are the Risk Factors for Hepatic Carcinoma?
Risk factors are conditions that predispose and increases the risk of the development of hepatic carcinoma in people. Below are some of the factors;
- Infection: People affected by chronic infections such as hepatitis B and C have higher chances of developing hepatic carcinoma.
- Diabetes mellitus: Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic condition in which an individual has a problem metabolizing and utilizing glucose, due to insulin insufficiency. People with this metabolic disorder have a higher risk of developing hepatic carcinoma.
- Liver cirrhosis: Liver cirrhosis is a condition in which the liver develops fibrous tissues. These fibrous tissues replace the healthy tissues of the liver. This usually occurs after a long period of liver Liver cirrhosis is one of the most common causes of hepatic carcinoma.
- Heredity: There are some inherited liver diseases that could increase the risk of developing hepatic carcinoma. Examples of these diseases are hemochromatosis and Wilson’s disease. Hemochromatosis is a condition in which the liver has an excess amount of iron deposit. On the other hand, Wilson’s disease is a condition in which the body has a problem with copper metabolism. This is due to the lack or insufficiency of ceruloplasmin in the liver. The ceruloplasmin is normally produced by the liver. These two diseases increase the risk of having hepatic carcinoma.
How Is Hepatic Carcinoma Currently Treated?
The treatment procedure that would be employed the doctor depends on a number of factors. Some of these factors include the size of a tumor, the stage of cancer, the age of the patient, and also the health status of the patient. Some of the treatment procedures, popularly used include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and supportive care for the patients.
Dickson, I. (2017). Stem cells: Stem cell therapy for liver cirrhosis unrealistic?. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 15(1), pp.4-4.
Grompe, M. (2014). Liver Stem Cells, Where Art Thou?. Cell Stem Cell, 15(3), pp.257-258.Get More Stem Cell Information at iSTEMCELL