Diagnosis of Liver Cancer

How is liver cancer detected?

Your doctor may take into account the following factors while diagnosing Liver Cancer:

  • Cancer type
  • Describe your indications and symptoms.
  • Your age and overall well-being

The outcomes of previous medical tests

The options for diagnosing liver cancer are described in this section. HCC can be diagnosed using the tests listed below.

  • Examination of the body: If a patient has HCC symptoms, the doctor will examine the abdomen for lumps, swelling, or other abnormalities in the liver, spleen, or other surrounding organs. The doctor will also search for signs of jaundice, such as yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes and an abnormal buildup of fluid in the abdomen.
  • Tests on the blood: The doctor will most likely perform a blood test to search for a chemical called AFP at the same time as the physical examination. In the United States, between 50 percent to 70 percent of persons with HCC had increased levels of AFP in their blood. The doctor will also perform a blood test to discover if the client has hepatitis B or C. Other blood tests can reveal how healthy the liver is. Further tests are frequently required to diagnose HCC, determine the tumour’s location in the liver, and determine whether it has migrated to other body regions. The doctor may recommend one or more of the following tests after the physical examination and blood testing:
  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound uses sound waves and a little quantity of radiation to create a picture of the structures inside the body. The liver, other organs, and tumours reverberate the sound waves. On a computer monitor, each produces a different image.
  • Computed Tomography (CT or CAT) machine: A CT scan uses x-rays gathered from various angles to build a three-dimensional image of the inside of the body. A computer stitches these images into a thorough cross-sectional view that reveals abnormalities or malignancies. Before the scan, a specific dye called a contrast medium is sometimes used to improve image detail. This dye can be injected into a patient’s vein or swallowed as a beverage. HCC is frequently diagnosed using CT scan findings specific to cancer. This allows people to avoid having their livers biopsied. 
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Magnetic fields, not x-rays, are used in an MRI to provide detailed images of the body. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan can be used to determine the tumor’s size. Before the scan, a specific dye called a contrast medium is administered to create a crisper image. This dye can be injected into a patient’s vein or swallowed as a beverage.
  • Angiogram: An x-ray image of the blood arteries is called angiography. The liver’s blood arteries are visible on an x-ray after a dye is introduced into the bloodstream.
  • Laparoscopy: Laparoscopy is a procedure in which a doctor uses a thin, illuminated, flexible tube called a laparoscope to look into the body. The patient is anaesthetized as the tube is placed into the abdomen through a tiny incision. Sedation makes the patient feel comfortable and sleepy. Laparoscopy is only employed in diagnosing liver cancer on a very uncommon basis.
  • Biopsy: A biopsy is a procedure in which a small piece of tissue is removed and examined under a microscope. The material is next examined by a pathologist (s). Cancer’s location will determine the type of biopsy required. A laparoscopy, fine-needle aspiration, or core biopsy can all be used to do the biopsy. A small needle injected into the tumour extracts cells during a fine-needle aspiration. A thicker needle is used in a core biopsy. A radiologist performs either treatment, using an ultrasound to guide the needle to the tumour-bearing area of the liver. The biopsy operation itself normally takes less than a minute. It is usually painless, and only a few patients experience difficulties due to the operation.

Your doctor will test your blood to see if it clots normally before the biopsy. This reduces the possibility of bleeding following the surgery. Your doctor may use laparoscopy and biopsy to examine the non-cancerous area of your liver to determine if you have cirrhosis. A biopsy may not be necessary if the AFP blood test, CT scan, or MRI strongly suggests HCC and other test results indicate HCC. Also, if all or part of the liver is removed, most surgeons will prescribe a biopsy as part of the surgery rather than a separate treatment.

It’s also worth noting that improved imaging methods simplify finding very small lumps. 

However, determining a very small mass and cancerous mass is not always achievable. The doctor may advise a “watch and wait” approach in certain cases, especially if the mass is 1 centimetre or smaller. Active surveillance or watchful waiting are other terms for the same thing. This means the scans will be done again in 3 to 6 months. The surveillance strategy is maintained if a subsequent scan reveals that the size hasn’t changed. If it continues to grow, the doctor will do a biopsy.

The tumor’s biomarkers will be tested. Your doctor may suggest that laboratory tests be performed on a tumour sample to discover specific genes, proteins, and other variables specific to the tumour. This is often referred to as tumour molecular testing. These data can assist the clinician in describing the malignancy if the diagnosis is HCC. This is referred to as staging.