Liver Cancer

Dr. Ayush PandeyMBBS,PG Diploma

December 10, 2018

March 06, 2020

Liver Cancer
Liver Cancer

What is Liver Cancer?

Liver cancer or hepatic cancer can be either a primary or secondary cancer. In other words, the origin of the condition may be either in the liver (primary) or may spread to the liver from other organs (secondary). However, the secondary form is more common than primary cancer.

Cancer is an abnormal growth of cells wherein the restraining mechanism of cell development is affected. This causes the cells to interfere with the normal working of the body organs. However, the liver may continue to function despite the detrimental effect of cancer and thus the condition may go undetected for a long time.

Primary liver cancer includes

  • Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)
  • Fibrolamellar cancer
  • Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma
  • Liver angiosarcoma
  • Hepatoblastoma

What are its main associated signs and symptoms?

As stated above, primary liver cancer often remains undetected for a long time. Symptoms might include

What are its main causes?

Liver cancer is the result of damage to the organ due to

  • Cirrhosis in which the liver tissue gets affected by alcohol abuse
  • Hepatitis viruses B, C, or D
  • Arsenic exposure
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Secondary cancer of the bowel or breast

How is it diagnosed and treated?

Diagnosis of the condition is done by the doctor using any of the following methods:

  • Blood test to identify liver function
  • Liver biopsy
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • Upper endoscopy
  • CT scan
  • Ultrasound
  • Laparoscopy

For lesions smaller than a centimetre, a follow-up after every three months is sufficient. In some cases, an invasive surgery is enough to cover the damage to the liver cells and help in regenerative growth.

Treatment of liver cancer depends on the degree and nature of advancement. Therefore, options exist in the form of:

  • Surgery to remove the affected part and damaged cells
  • Liver transplant from a donor
  • Tumour suppressor mechanisms such as radio or microwaves. This process also destroys normal cells
  • Chemotherapy, i.e., inserting anti-cancer drugs
  • Embolization therapy for those who cannot undergo surgery due to medical reasons
  • Targeting therapy to reduce the growth of the cells


  1. Better health channel. Department of Health and Human Services [internet]. State government of Victoria; Liver cancer
  2. National Health Service [Internet] NHS inform; Scottish Government; Liver cancer
  3. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Liver Cancer
  4. Cancer Research UK. What is primary liver cancer?. England; [Internet]
  5. Recio-Boiles A, Waheed A, Babiker HM. Cancer, Liver. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-.