The cancer finds its root either on the external or on the inner surfaces of the liver - an important organ of the digestive system, which aids in detoxification. The cancer type originates with the occurrence of a vascular tumor.

Different kinds of liver cancer

Some of the common types of liver cancer include

Hepatocellular carcinoma- is one of the most common liver cancer types.

Hemangioendothaliomas- originates in the blood vessel of the liver.

Some of the rare kinds of liver cancer are the following -
  • Sarcoma
  • Hepatoblastoma
  • Cholangiocarcinoma
  • Hemangiosarcoma
  • Angiosarcoma
  • Lymphoma

Causes of liver cancer

Hepatitis C

The infectious disease of 'Hepatitis C' has been singled out as the essential reason behind liver cancer. The infection goes without the occurrence of appropriate symptoms. But persistent attack of Hepatitis C leads to cirrhosis, with the resulting occurrence of liver cancer.

Hepatitis B

The infectious and inflammatory condition triggered by virus of the Hepatitis B type counts amongst the responsible causes of Hepatitis B.

Deficiency of I-Carnitine

Absence of I- Carnitine - an important biosynthesized compound- also counts amongst the causes of Liver cancer.

Alcohol abuse

Alcohol abuse has its role to play with respect of cirrhosis. This in turn may give way to liver cancer.

Symptoms of liver cancer

The initial phase is marked by the presence of the following symptoms
  1. Accumulation of fluid in the abdomen followed by swelling.
  2. Jaundice and outward manifestation of an enlarged liver.
  3. Invasion of the cancerous growth into the realm of portal vein can lead to the dilation of veins.
  4. Hemorrhage can be one of the possibilities with the rupture of the dilated veins.
Additional symptoms of liver cancer which confirm the occurrence of liver cancer
  1. Pain in the abdomen
  2. Unaccountable loss of weight
  3. Sudden bouts of fever and chill
  4. Gradual/sudden deterioration in the condition of cirrhosis.

Stages of liver cancer

The various phases of metastasis can be categorized into four subdivisions
  1. The first phase of liver cancer

    In the initial level of progression, the vascular tumor may not measure more than two centimeters in length. Surgical removal may still be a possibility.

  2. The second stage of liver cancer

    The second stage is generally marked by the presence of one or more than one tumor measuring approximately around two centimeters, or exceeding the length of two centimeters. The given stage is marked by yet another possibility, instead of one, there can be collection of quite a few tumors.

    But even at this stage of progression, the malignancy is still to affect the lymph nodes, blood vessel and the other unaffected liver lobe.

  3. The third stage of liver cancer

    The stage can still be subdivided into two types. In the first series of progression, the malignancy starts affecting the adjoining blood vessels. In the second sequence of progression, the cancerous growth eats into the second lobe, lymph nodes and other organs as well.

  4. The fourth stage of liver cancer

    The last stage, which again can be subdivided into two subdivisions, is marked by rapid progression of this deadly disease. Besides affecting the portal vein as well as the hepatic artery; peritoneum may be affected as well. But in the second round of progression, distant organs, located farthest from the point of origin are likely to be affected.

Different stages of liver cancer and curability

Size and extent of malignancy

Chances of curability to a large extent depend on the size of the malignant tumor and to what extent it has affected the adjoining blood vessels. The initial stages of malignancy, more specifically the first two stages, have been found responding positively to surgery. But, the response is dependent on certain conditions. The tumor has to be small enough to ensure 'partial hepatectomy'.

Secondly, the liver needs to be healthy enough to respond to the deals of surgery.

Large tumor - that has not exceeded the size of seven centimeters

With operation, certain malignant tumors large in size, tends to revive and spread elsewhere. But large tumors of the mentioned size have better treatment options in liver transplantation. But, the given option will work provided, the tumor hasn't spread sufficiently.

Advanced stages

Advanced stages of liver cancer may be treated with drugs and different options for chemo and radiotherapy.

Survival rate of liver cancer

Good chances with the surgical removal

The rate of survival has been found to be high with those having gone in for surgical removal. The cancerous stage where the tumor is resectable with surgical means has good chances of survival.

Liver transplantation - is even better

But for transplantation, the cancer needs to be in the least stage of metastasis.

  1. To go by the facts provided by the 'National Cancer Institute'- the overall rate of survival is
  2. 50%- in the first and second stage with surgery.
  3. 60 - 70% - with the option for liver transplantations.

Treatment of liver cancer

Traditional treatment for liver cancer

  1. The traditional treatment options for liver cancer include the following:
  2. Surgery – where one of the options involves removal of the malignant growth. Along with the surgical extraction of the malignanvy, partial removal of the liver may become necessary.
  3. Transplantation- In cases, where the health of the malignant liver has been severely damaged by cirrhosis, infection and alcoholism; transplantation with the help of a donor's liver may work out well.
  4. Chemotherapy- may go well with conditions which aren't recoverable by surgery. The mode may be effective in shrinking the size of the malignant tumor, besides doing away with the symptomatic conditions.
  5. Chemoembolisation- The process is supposed to be a blend of chemo and that of embolisation, whereby the supply of blood to the cancerous tumor is cut off. The treatment makes use of drugs meant for chemo besides, injecting the area with gelatin sponge.
  6. Ablation- The means of treatment aims at getting rid of the cancerous cells with the use of radio frequent waves.

Natural treatment of liver cancer

  1. Biological treatment based on the use of natural substances : One such natural therapy includes the use of a protein. The therapy, known technically as 'TKI' involves the use of protein as a chemical activator. The therapy works well in adding to the life expectancy of those affected by cancer.

  2. With herbs : Supplements made out of broccoli sprouts, mangosteen, goji berry and mushroom have been found contributing to the natural deals of treatment by enhancing the immunity. These herbs are tested with anti-cancer features.
  3. Certain food items : Food items including milk, yogurt and fresh fruits can add to the health of the liver. Juice therapy, focused merely on a liquid diet has been found effective with liver cancer.

Demography likely to be affected by liver cancer

Race and liver cancer

While the incidence of liver cancer is higher amongst the blacks and different Asian groups; it is significantly less amongst the whites of the non-Hispanic kind.

Sex and liver cancer

Liver cancer tends to affect males more than the females.

Risk prone groups

  • Besides the ones given to alcohol abuse, other risk prone groups of liver cancer include the following
  • Those suffering from hereditary metabolic diseases
  • The ones who are diabetic
  • Obese people

Prevention of liver cancer

  • Maintenance of a healthy liver includes the following dos and don'ts
  • Moderate consumption of alcohol.
  • Reducing the counts of calorie, this in turn will ensure a balanced body weight.
  • Minimizing the risks of infection - by vaccinations of Hepatitis B.
  • Taking preventive measures against the likely infection of Hepatitis C.
  • The risks can be minimized with the use of disinfected needles</> in course of blood transfusion and other intravenous means of drug transfer.
  • Sexual interaction with an infected person can give bones to infection of Hepatitis B or C. So, unprotected intercourses are also to be watched out on.