Liver cancer is a condition that affects thousands of individuals around the world. It is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, and the number of people diagnosed with liver cancer is expected to increase in the coming years.
The liver is a vital organ responsible for many different functions in the body, including filtering toxins from the blood, storing nutrients, and producing bile, which helps digest food. A healthy liver is essential for overall health, but unfortunately, cancerous cells can spread from other parts of the body to the liver or can form directly in the liver.
The most common form of liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma, which starts in the liver cells. This type of cancer is most common in people over the age of 60 and is often linked to chronic liver disease or cirrhosis due to hepatitis B or C infection, excessive alcohol consumption, or type 2 diabetes. Other forms of liver cancer include intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, which starts in the bile ducts, and hepatoblastoma, which is a rare type of liver cancer that is more common in children.
Types of Liver Cancer
There are several different types of liver cancer. The causes of each one are related to particular areas of the liver or particular types of liver cells. One lump in your liver can be the first sign of liver cancer, or it may start simultaneously in several places all over the liver.
The following are the primary forms of liver cancer:
Hepatocellular carcinoma: The most typical form of liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), often known as hepatoma.
Cholangiocarcinoma: The tiny, tube-like bile ducts in your liver are where cholangiocarcinoma, more generally referred to as bile duct cancer, originates.
Liver angiosarcoma: A relatively uncommon kind of liver cancer called hepatic angiosarcoma starts in the blood veins of your liver. Due to the rapid progression of this form of cancer, it is frequently discovered when it is more advanced.
Hepatoblastoma: Hepatoblastoma is a very uncommon kind of liver cancer. Children, especially those beneath the age of three, almost invariably have it.
Stages of Liver Cancer
Liver cancer stage is an important indicator of the extent and severity of the disease’s spread. This directs cancer professionals and aids in the formulation of a treatment plan as well as the evaluation of the prognosis for liver cancer. If you’re looking for more information on liver cancer you can read about liver cancer treatment cost in India.
According to how cancer develops, the phases are often divided into four stages:
- Stage 1: Cancer does not spread to other organs or other body parts and stays limited to the liver.
- Stage 2: There might be several little tumors that are limited to the liver or a single tumor that has progressed to a blood artery.
- Stage 3: There are either numerous sizable tumors or one huge primary blood vessel has been invaded by a tumor.
- Stage 4 of liver cancer: This is an advanced stage in which cancer has progressed and metastasized to additional parts of the body.
The stage and many specific factors are taken into account by Indian liver cancer specialists while developing a personalized treatment strategy for each patient. They are designed to treat a cancer patient holistically and get rid of as many cancer cells as they can. Also, you can find the best oncologist in India.
Common symptoms of liver cancer include fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), bloating, and swelling of the abdomen. Other symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, and dark urine.
Successful treatment of liver cancer depends on early diagnosis and identification. Your doctor will perform a physical examination and might order blood tests, imaging tests, and/or a biopsy to diagnose liver cancer.
- Blood testing: Doctors may do blood tests for cancer, such as a liver function test, to look for liver enzymes, proteins, and other chemicals that indicate whether your liver is healthy or damaged. A test for AFP could be performed. A high AFP level might be a sign of liver cancer.
- Sonography (ultrasound): This procedure produces images of the soft tissue structures within your body. Ultrasound is a tool that doctors use to check for liver tumors.
- Computed tomography (CT) scan: This specialized form of X-ray creates comprehensive pictures of your liver and provides details on the size and location of liver tumors.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This test uses a huge magnet, radio waves, and a computer to create extremely clear pictures of your body.
- Angiogram: This test allows doctors to look at the blood arteries in your liver. During this test, your healthcare practitioner injects dye so they can track blood vessel activity and look for obstructions.
- Biopsy: Medical professionals take liver tissue and examine it for indications of malignancy. The most accurate method for diagnosing liver cancer is via biopsies.
If your healthcare professional suspects you may have IHC, they could do the following tests:
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): Using an endoscope and a catheter (thin, flexible tubes), ERCP examines your bile ducts.
- Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography (PTC): A PTC generates X-rays of your bile ducts, just like an ERCP does. Your healthcare professional administers contrast dye by penetrating your bile ducts and liver with a needle, as opposed to using an endoscope and catheter. Those who cannot get an ERCP often only qualify for a PTC.
Treatment for Liver Cancer
If a diagnosis of liver cancer is made, treatment options can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted therapy. Your specialist can help you to determine the best treatment option available for you. The severity (stage) of the ailment, your age, general health, and personal preferences all affect your liver cancer treatment options. Furthermore, cancer treatment hospitals in India are known to provide the best treatment for patients who are fighting cancer. The types of therapies utilized to treat liver cancer treatment in India are as follows.
When treating liver cancer, the following techniques are employed:
- Surgery to remove the tumor: In some circumstances, your doctor may recommend treatment to remove the liver cancer and a small amount of the surrounding healthy liver tissue if your liver function is great and the tumor is small. The location of the cancer in your liver, the efficiency with which your liver functions and your overall level of health will all determine if this is the best option for you.
- Liver transplantation: During a liver transplant procedure, your diseased liver is removed and replaced with a donor liver that is more healthy. Having a liver transplant is only a possibility for a small percentage of people with early-stage liver cancer.
With the use of strong energy from sources like protons and X-rays, this treatment decreases tumors by obliterating cancer cells. The healthy tissue around the liver is saved since the energy is carefully focused there. Radiation therapy may be an option if other therapies are either impractical or have failed. Advanced liver cancer symptoms may be better managed with radiation therapy.
During an external beam radiation therapy treatment, you lie on a table as a machine directs energy beams at a particular part of your body. One particular form of radiation therapy is stereotactic body radiotherapy.
Targeted drug treatments focus on specific flaws frequently found in cancer cells. Pharmacological therapy that targets these abnormalities can kill cancer cells.
Several different medications can be used to treat advanced liver cancer. Patients who can benefit from targeted therapy are the only ones who have specific genetic changes in cancer cells. Your cancer cells may be analyzed in a lab to determine whether these drugs could be helpful.
In order to fight cancer, immunotherapy makes use of your immune system. Cancer may not be successfully treated by your body’s immune system because cancer cells produce substances that render immune system cells blind. Rarely do individuals with advanced liver cancer receive immunotherapy treatments.
Chemotherapy uses chemicals to kill rapidly proliferating cells, especially cancer cells. You can receive chemotherapy in either the oral or intravenous form through a vein in your arm. The treatment of advanced liver cancer with chemotherapy is occasionally necessary.
Palliative care is a sort of specialized medical care that focuses on treating severe illness symptoms including pain. To augment your ongoing therapy, palliative care specialists collaborate with you, your loved ones, and your other healthcare professionals. Involving more invasive procedures like surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy may be combined with palliative care.
Along with all other necessary medications, palliative care may prolong the quality of life and improve the overall health of cancer patients. Palliative care is provided by a team of medical specialists, including nurses and other licensed professionals. The aim of palliative care teams is to improve the quality of life for cancer patients and their families. This form of therapy is offered in addition to any curative treatments or other treatments you may be receiving. Also, read about the cancer treatment cost in India for more info.
Living with liver cancer can be overwhelming, but there are many resources available to help you cope with the diagnosis. Support groups, counseling, and other forms of therapy can be beneficial for those living with this condition. It’s also important to take steps to maintain your overall health, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding alcohol and other toxins.
Liver cancer is a serious condition, but with early detection, proper treatment, and ongoing support, many individuals are able to live long and healthy lives. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with liver cancer, it is important to talk to your doctor about your options and to take steps to maintain your overall health.