(Malignant Hepatoma; Hepatocellular Carcinoma; Primary Liver Cancer)
- Infection with the hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus
- Formation of scar tissue in the liver, also known as cirrhosis
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Exposure to an infectious agent, such as a liver fluke, which is found in southern Pacific countries
- Abnormal collection of iron in body tissues— hemochromatosis
- Hereditary metabolic disorders such as alpha-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency and tyrosinemia
Exposure to certain chemicals:
- Aflatoxin—a substance made by a fungus that often infects wheat, peanuts, soybeans, corn, and rice in tropical and subtropical regions
- Vinyl chloride and thorium dioxide—chemicals that are strictly controlled
- Anabolic steroids—male hormones sometimes given for medical reasons, but also taken by athletes to increase strength
- Toxins, such as arsenic
|Liver Cancer Due to Cirrhosis|
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- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Dark urine
- Excessive itchiness of the skin
- Confusion and increased sleepiness
- Yellowing of the skin and/or the whites of the eye
- Blood tests
- Surgery—Removal of the cancerous tumor and nearby tissue, and possibly nearby lymph nodes.
- Cryosurgery—Destroys tumors by freezing them with a metal probe.
- Ethanol ablation—Kills cancer cells by injecting alcohol directly into the tumor.
—The use of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may be:
- External radiation therapy—Radiation is directed at the liver from a source outside the body.
- Internal radiation therapy—Radiation is placed as close as possible to the cancer cells. Radiation seeds or compounds are delivered directly to the tumor through a special catheter that is placed in the hepatic artery, which delivers blood to the liver.
- Radiofrequency ablation —This involves using heat to destroy the tumor. Imaging machines are used to guide the probe to the tumor site.
- Chemotherapy —Drugs enter the bloodstream and travel through the body to kill mostly cancer cells and some healthy cells; may be given by pill, injection, and via a catheter directly into the liver.
- Sorafenib—A new class of therapies targeting vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGF); used for advanced liver cancer.
- Biological therapy—The use of medications or substances made by the body to increase or restore the body's natural defenses against cancer; also called biological response modifier (BRM) therapy.
- Always use a clean needle if you use needles to inject medication or drugs. Do not share needles with anyone.
- Always use condoms when having sexual intercourse if you or your partner is not in a monogamous relationship, or if you don't know if your partner has hepatitis.
- Drink alcohol moderately, which is 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women.
- Have children vaccinated against hepatitis B.
- Eat a healthy diet that includes white meat and fish.
American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org
American Liver Foundation http://www.liverfoundation.org
BC Cancer Agency http://www.bccancer.bc.ca
Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca
Hepatocellular carcinoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated July 22, 2014. Accessed August 15, 2014.
Liver cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003114-pdf.pdf. Accessed August 15, 2014.
Liver cancer. National Cancer Institute. National Institutes of Health website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/liver. Accessed August 15, 2014.
Salem, R, Lewandowski, RJ, Mulcahy, MF, et al. Radioembolization for hepatocellular carcinoma using Yttrium-90 microspheres: a comprehensive report of long-term outcomes. Gastroenterology. 2010;138:52.
3/19/2010 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Saunders D, Seidel D, Allison M, Lyratzopoulos G. Systematic review: the association between obesity and hepatocellular carcinoma—epidemiologic evidence. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2010;31(10):1051-1063.
3/17/2014 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Luo J, Yang Y, et al. Systematic review with meta-analysis: meat consumption and the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2014;39(9):913-922.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 08/2014 -
- Update Date: 03/17/2014 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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