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Liver Cancer

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A brief about Liver Cancer

Hepatic cancer is a cancer of the liver. The liver is the body’s largest glandular organ which performs numerous vital functions to keep the body free from toxins. This is situated in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen, just under the ribs. It is the liver that produces bile, which is a fluid  that helps you absorb fats, vitamins, and other nutrients. This vital organ also retains nutrients like glucose, so as to keep you nourished at times when you don’t consume them. This breaks down medications and toxins, as well. When cancer occurs in the liver, it breaks down liver cells and interferes with the liver’s ability to function  properly.

Primary hepatic cancer starts in the liver cells. Secondary cancer of the liver arises when  cancerous cells migrate to the liver from another organ. Unlike other body cells, cancer cells may break away from the primary site. The cells migrate through the bloodstream or lymphatic network to other parts of the body. Cancer cells gradually join together and start developing in other body organs.

What are the types of Liver cancer?

  • Hepatocellular Carcinoma

 

The most common form of liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma also known as hepatoma. This cancer occurs within the hepatocytes, which are the primary cells of the liver. It can spread from the liver to other body parts, including the pancreas, intestines, and stomach. Hepatocellular carcinoma is much more likely to occur in people who experience significant liver damage.

 

Symptoms of Hepatocellular Carcinoma

  • Pain within the upper right portion of your abdomen
  • A lump or sensation of heaviness in your upper stomach
  • Bloating or swelling in your stomach
  • Loss of appetite and feelings of fullness
  • Weakness or extreme exhaustion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Yellow skin and eyes
  • Pale, chalky intestines and dark urine
  • Fever

 

 

 

  • Cholangiocarcinoma

 

Cholangiocarcinoma is cancer formed in the slender tubes containing the bile of the digestive fluid. Bile ducts bind the liver to the gallbladder and the small intestine. This disease, also known as bile duct cancer, is a rare liver cancer type that often occurs in people over the age of 60, though it may occur at any age.

Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma occurs inside the liver in the areas of the bile ducts and is often identified as a form of liver cancer. Cholangiocarcinoma hilar develops in the bile ducts only below the liver. Distal cholangiocarcinoma develops in the bile duct part closest to a small intestine.

 

Symptoms of Cholangiocarcinoma

  • Yellowing of the eyes
  • Intensely itchy skin
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Unexplained loss of weight

 

 

 

  • Angiosarcoma

 

Angiosarcoma is one of the rare liver cancer types that occurs in the blood vessel lining and the lymph vessels. Your lymph, which is a part of the immune system, stores and disposes bacteria, viruses, and waste products. Angiosarcoma can occur anywhere in the  body but it occurs most commonly in the head and neck. In other areas of the body, such as the breast,,  it may appear in deeper tissue, including the heart and liver. Angiosarcoma occasionally develops in the skin but can occur in areas treated with radiation therapy before.

Symptoms of Angiosarcoma include the skin bruising, or bruise-like lesion that grows larger over time and can bleed when scratched or bumped. 

 

 

 

  • Hepatoblastoma

 

Hepatoblastoma is also one of the rare liver cancer types which originate in liver cells. It is the most common, early cancerous liver tumor. Most tumors with hepatoblastoma begin in the right liver lobe. Cancer cells with hepatoblastoma can also spread to other parts of the body. The lungs are the most common site for metastasis.

Hepatoblastoma generally affects children under the age of 5 years. This happens most frequently in children with very low birth weights, or who were born  premature.

Symptoms of Hepatoblastoma include a large abdominal mass, swollen abdomen, weight loss, decreased appetite, nausea, itchy skin, anemia, and back pain.

What are the early signs of Liver cancer?

Early liver cancer signs and symptoms are as following:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • An enlarged liver and feeling of fullness with continuous pain
  • An enlarged spleen 
  • Bleeding
  • Pain in the abdomen 
  • Abdominal swelling or fluid build-up
  • Itching
  • Yellowing of skin and eyes
  • Fever
  • Swollen belly veins that are evident through the skin
  • Irregular bleeding

What are the causes of Liver cancer?

 

  • Cirrhosis: Cirrhosis is liver scarring due to any previous injury. This scarring can cause problems in proper liver functioning, leading to pain. Cirrhosis raises the risk of developing hepatic cancer. The risk can vary according to the cause of the cirrhosis. Cirrhosis can occur from:

 

  • Viral infection such as hepatitis B or C
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Genetic disorders such as excess iron in the body
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Primary biliary cirrhosis

 

 

  • Smoking: Smoking raises the risk of many cancers, including hepatic cancer. Smoking increases the chance of developing liver cancer. In smokers with hepatitis B or C infection, the risk may be higher.

 

 

 

  • Overweight: The risk of liver cancer  increases by being overweight or obese. Diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease are more common in overweight people.

 

 

 

  • Alcohol Consumption: Heavy consumption of alcohol raises the risk of hepatic cancer. Also, alcohol may directly affect the DNA inside the liver cells. In heavy drinkers with hepatitis B or C virus infections, the risk of liver cancer is higher compared with those who consume small quantities of alcohol or don’t consume at all.

 

 

 

  • Fatty Liver: Fatty liver increases the risk of hepatic cancer. A category of disorders, including moderate hepatic steatosis and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, is a non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Fat builds up in the liver in these conditions. The fat causes inflammation and damage, possibly contributing to cirrhosis. It may include:

 

  • Excess weight around the waist
  • Less insulin efficiency than average
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood fat levels

 

 

  • Infection: Long-term hepatitis B or C virus infection raises the risk of developing primary liver cancer. This is primarily because the liver is weakened by certain viruses. Drinking alcohol while you have hepatitis B or C  increases the  risk of liver cancer  even more.

 

  • Gallstones: People who have had gallstones previously or who have removed their gallbladder may have an increased risk of hepatic cancer. The increased cause may be attributed to elevated pressure in the bile duct, causing inflammation in the liver tissue over the long term.

Risk factors involved in Liver cancer

A risk factor raises the chances of contracting a disease, like hepatic cancer. Specific cancers have different risk factors. Some risk factors can be avoided , such as smoking. Others can’t be changed, like the age of a person or family history. The other liver cancer risk factors involve:

 

  • Cirrhosis: Cirrhosis occurs when the liver cells are damaged, and scar tissue replaces them. Most of the cirrhosis is caused by alcohol misuse. Other causes include NAFLD, viral hepatitis, too much iron from a condition called hemochromatosis in the liver, and several other unusual chronic liver disease forms.
  • Hepatitis: Hepatitis is a virus that results in liver infection . Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are the two specific forms. It is the world’s biggest risk factor for liver cancer. Hepatitis C has become much more common than hepatitis B, and there is no preventive vaccine for hepatitis C. It can spread through blood or body fluids from person to person, physical injury, sharing needles or tattooing. In the case of hepatitis B, if the mother has it, the chances of getting it in an unborn baby or infant increases. . However,  it can be avoided by infant vaccination.
  • Age: Primary adult liver cancer most often occurs  in people over 50.
  • Gender: Males are more likely to develop liver cancer than females.
  • Environmental factors: Any environmental factor, such as exposure to certain chemicals or consuming food contaminated with aflatoxin, may increase the risk of liver cancer. Aflatoxin is a toxin created by a mold that can grow on stored nuts and grains.

 

How to prevent Liver cancer?

  • Avoid Drinking and Smoking: Drinking alcohol can lead to cirrhosis, which can lead to hepatic cancer. If you smoke, stopping will help to reduce the cancer risk, as well as many other cancers and life threatening illnesses.
  • Maintain Healthy Weight: One way to help and protect against liver cancer may be to prevent obesity. Individuals who are obese are more likely to develop fatty liver disease and diabetes, all of which are  linked with hepatic cancer.
  • Get Vaccination: By taking the hepatitis B vaccine, you will reduce the risk of getting it. Nearly everyone, including children, older adults, and those with weakened immune systems, should get the vaccine.
  • Use Sterile Needle: The use of a sterile needle reduces the chance of liver cancer. Contaminated paraphernalia is one common source of infection with hepatitis C.
  • Go For hepatitis B & C Treatment: Treatments for hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections are available. These treatments can reduce the risk of liver cancer.

Diagnosis of Liver cancer

Procedures for liver cancer diagnosis include:

 

  • Blood Test: Blood tests may show anomalies in liver function.
  • Preview Checks: The doctor may prescribe testing for imaging, such as ultrasound, CT, and MRI.
  • Liver Tissue Sample for Testing: To make a definitive diagnosis of hepatic cancer, it is often appropriate to extract a piece of liver tissue for laboratory examination. The doctor will put a thin needle inside the patient’s skin to get a sample of tissue during a liver biopsy. The biopsy of the liver carries a risk of bleeding, swelling, and infection.
  • Ultrasound: Ultrasound includes the sound waves which are used to create an image on a computer screen. The test will display tumors that develop in the liver, which can then be screened for cancer if necessary.
  • Angiography: Angiography can be used to display the blood supplying arteries to the liver.   It uses an X-ray to get a clear outline of blood vessels.

 

Treatment for various stages of Liver cancer

  • Surgery: Surgery is possibly the most effective cancer treatment. It includes: Hepatectomy:  Extracting a part of the liver by operation is called a hepatectomy. A hepatectomy is performed if the cancer is found to be in one section of the liver. Within a few weeks of surgery, the liver can regrow to its normal size. 

    Liver transplant: A liver transplant may often be performed. This procedure is only feasible with  strict conditions, including tumor size, and if a suitable donor is identified.

 

 

  • Radiofrequency Ablation: Radiofrequency ablation can be prescribed as an alternative to early stage surgery to treat liver cancer, preferably if the tumor has a diameter of less than 3 cm. This treatment includes heating tumors with thin, needle-like electrodes, using microwaves or radio waves. This heat destroys the cancer cells and shrinks the tumors.

 

 

  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses potent cancer-killing medications to suppress liver cancer spread. For the treatment of cases of stage B and C liver cancer, a form of chemotherapy called transcatheter arterial chemoembolization is generally recommended.

Stages of Liver Cancer

Staging measures the extent of cancer and whether it has spread elsewhere in the body. There are different staging systems that doctors can use to treat liver cancer. One of these is the Number Staging Method. It breaks down liver cancer into four major stages, from 1 to 4.

 

  •  Stage 1

Stage 1 Hepatic cancer is divided into 1A and 1B.

Stage 1A shows that a single tumor is 2 cm or less in the liver and may or may not have grown into a blood vessel. Stage 1B means that a single tumor has reached 2 cm and has not expanded into the vessels of the blood. The symptoms include high levels of calcium in the blood that can cause nausea, vomiting, constipation, weakness, or muscle problems. 

Treatment options for stage 1 may include ablation, embolization, or both. The side effects include nausea, vomiting, fever, and pain. But the survival rate is higher in stage 1, up to 70-80 percent. 

 

 

  • Stage 2

Stage 2 liver cancer shows that a single tumor has reached 2 cm and has expanded into liver blood vessels. It also means that there are many tumors in the liver, and they are all smaller than 5 cm. Stage 2 liver cancer does not spread to the lymph nodes or other areas of the body. Symptoms include low levels of blood sugar that can cause fatigue or faintness. 

Treatment options for stage 2 may include targeted treatment, immunotherapy, chemotherapy. Side effects include loss of hair, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea, tiredness, and mouth sores. The survival rate for stage 2 is 60-65 percent depending on the patient’s capacity to undergo heavy liver cancer treatments. 

 

 

  • Stage 3

Stage 3 of hepatic cancer is split into two further stages – stage 3A and stage 3B. Stage 3A means there are more than one tumor, of which at least one is larger than 5 cm. Stage 3B means cancer has spread through organs around the liver or the padding wrapped around the abdomen’s internal organs. Stage 3 symptoms include continuous bleeding, itching, and abnormal pain. 

Treatment options for stage 3 may include infusion of hepatic arteries or radiation therapy. Side effects include bleeding, yellow skin, and pain. The survival rate for stage 3 is comparatively low to 45-50 percent.

 

 

  • Stage 4

Stage 4 of hepatic cancer is split into two additional stages-stage 4A and stage 4B. Stage 4A shows that cancer may have spread in blood vessels or organs around the liver. Stage 4B means cancer may or may not have spread to lymph nodes, but it has spread to other parts of the body, including the lungs or bones. Stage 4 symptoms include high numbers of red blood cells that can cause someone to look red and flush. 

Treatment options for stage 4 may include transplant hepatectomy, which helps to shrink the cancer tumor. Side effects for this treatment include dark urine, bleeding, fatigue. The survival rate for stage 4 depends upon the liver cancer treatment success.

If liver cancer has spread to tissues or organs surrounding liver cancer lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is 10%. The 5-year survival rate is 3 percent if cancer has spread to a distant part of the body.

Integrative Treatment

Integrative treatment is a complementary care. Integrative treatment facilitates mutual decision making between patients and doctors. This treatment includes therapies such as acupuncture, meditation, and massage. The integrative treatment promotes a healthy lifestyle that is a holistic approach — body, mind, spirit, and emotions— in the search for optimal health and wellness.

Lifestyle during integrative treatment includes day-to-day life work, including gardening, household chores, grocery shopping, making the person active and enthusiastic.

Life in Remission

Treatments for cancer can cause side effects. Side effects are complications that occur when healthy tissues or organs are affected by cancer treatment medications.

Below is the list of few side effects you may suffer after liver cancer treatment:

 

  • Appetite Loss: Treatments for cancer can lower your appetite or alter the taste or smell of food. Side effects such as issues with the mouth and throat or nausea and vomiting can also hinder feeding. Fatigue connected to cancer can also reduce appetite. Consult the best liver cancer hospital when you are not hungry, or if you find it difficult to eat. It is important to eat healthy both during and after treatment.

 

  • Fatigue: Fatigue is a common side effect of many treatments for liver cancer, including immunotherapy, radiation therapy, bone marrow transplant, and surgery. Conditions such as discomfort, emotions, and mood swings may also cause or exacerbate tiredness. Cancer-related fatigue is one of the most daunting side-effects many people experience.

 

  • Lymphedema: Lymphedema is a condition in which the lymphatic fluid is not adequately drained. It can build up and cause swelling in the tissues. This may occur when a portion of the lymph system is weakened or blocked, such as lymph node removal during surgery. Lymphedema typically affects an arm or leg, although other areas of the body, such as head and neck, can also be affected. You may find lymphedema symptoms in the part of the body where you were having surgery. Sometimes swelling grows relatively gradually over time.

 

  • Changes in Skin: Treatments for cancer can cause changes to the skin. Consult the best liver cancer hospital to find out what side effects the medication could cause, although skin problems caused by surgery or other treatment are mostly mild. Liver transplants can cause skin issues such as swelling, blisters, or skin thickening. Other forms of targeted treatment can cause dry skin, acne, and nail issues.

 

  • Pain: Pain management is an integral part of the cancer care plan. Pain can weaken the immune system, increase your body’s time for recovery, interfere with sleep, and affect your mood. Visit the best liver cancer hospital if:
  • The pain doesn’t get better or get away with painkillers
  • The pain comes on easily
  • The pain makes it impossible to eat, sleep or do your normal activities

 

  • Neuropathy: Many therapies for liver cancer cause peripheral neuropathy as a result of peripheral nerve damage.  Side effects depend on the peripheral nerves that are affected.

 

 

  • Damage to sensory nerves may cause:
  • Tingling, numbness, or a feeling of pins-and-needles in your feet and hands that may spread to your legs and arms
  • Inability to feel a hot or cold sensation
  • Inability to feel pain, like from a cut or sore on your foot

 

  • Nausea and Vomiting: There are various forms of nausea and vomiting, including anticipatory, acute, and delayed nausea and vomiting, caused by liver cancer treatment. Nausea and vomiting regulation will make you feel better and avoid more severe issues, including malnutrition and dehydration.

How can ZenOnco.io help you?

Liver cancer diagnosis and treatment can be stressful, so you need to have knowledge to continue your life as a liver cancer survivor even after you’ve passed those obstacles. At ZenOnco.io, we aim to improve the quality of life of cancer patients with customized wellness protocols. The battle against liver cancer can be long, but it can be won and patients can come out as survivors with support, a healthy lifestyle, mental awareness and a positive attitude towards life. Here are some wellness practices offered by ZenOnco.io that can help you to manage liver cancer and come out of it much stronger.

Follow these simple steps listed below to live a good life after cancer treatment:

 

  • Stay fit

 

A lot of people find it difficult to incorporate exercise into their schedules after rigorous cancer treatments. It may be even harder for patients whose daily lives have been disrupted too often and who might have gone through treatment recently. Yet the advantages of physical exercise make it well worth the effort. At ZenOnco.io, we believe that staying fit not only promotes good health but also increases morale and helps combat the fatigue associated with cancer. Regular exercise can reduce the risk of recurrence and may help to reduce the risk of other chronic illnesses.

  • Do things that you enjoy. Everything counts as exercises, such as cycling, gardening, and dancing.
  • Make the habit of exercising at the same time everyday. Small changes in lifestyle will prove to be beneficial in the long run, such as walking after dinner or light exercises every morning.
  • Be inspired to work out with others.

 

 

  • Nourish yourself

 

A balanced diet will help keep weight in check, provide the body with the nutrition it needs, and the energy it requires to make it through a busy day. You should focus on fruits, vegetables, and avoid  red meat. It is necessary to cut down on saturated and trans fat and select polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats more often. ZenOnco.io provides customized nourishment plans for both patients undergoing treatments and survivors of liver cancer. 

  • Make a portion of each meal with fruit and vegetables
  • Instead of red meat choose rice, fish or beans
  • Pick whole-grain pasta, brown rice, and whole-wheat bread

 

 

  • Keep Calm

 

Being calm reduces stress and helps to refocus attention on matters. Share your emotions and thoughts with friends and family. Try to read, write, dance, or exercise, and do things that make you feel good. A calm mind will help in coping with every situation. 

 

 

  • Cancer-Proof your Home 

 

People focus on lifestyle, genetics, and diet when discussing possible cancer risk factors. This is understandable given that these are major players in the potential risk of developing many different cancer types. But we shouldn’t overlook the common environmental hazards we are all exposed to. People are exposed to toxins and potential carcinogens every day, whether at work or home. Staying free from cancer starts by reducing your exposure to these environmental toxins. ZenOnco.io promotes a healthy lifestyle which is free of carcinogenic compounds. 

 

 

  • Get Community Support

 

Our community support groups offer a lot of benefits. The number one reason you should join the community support group is to be with those who have had similar experiences with cancer.

  • Help you feel happier, more optimistic and not so lonely
  • Allow you to talk about your emotions to people in the group
  • Help you deal with practical issues such as family, friends, or work-related problems 
  • Help you cope with side effects of treatment

Visit our website to know more about our community support group and our wellness protocol aimed towards a cancer-free life and start living a healthy life today!