Liver Cancer

Liver cancer is a type of cancer that affects the cells of liver. It is very common across the globe but uncommon in the USA.

Signs & Symptoms

Early stages of liver cancer are often bereft of any signs or symptoms. However, as the disease progresses, symptoms do appear in the form of weight loss, abdominal pain, vomiting and nausea, liver enlargement, jaundice and white colored stools.

Treatment

Various options exist for treating liver cancer. Based on the stage and type of the cancer, the following modes of treatment are used:

  • Surgical removal of the tumor or the affected part of liver. This procedure could cost about $16,500.
  • Liver transplant can be performed where the diseased liver is replaced with healthy liver obtained from a healthy donor. This is particularly useful for patients in the first stage of the cancer. A liver transplant costs about $577,000 including pre and post operative expenses.
  • Cryoablation is a method where the progress of the disease is stopped by freezing the affected liver cells. Depending on where the procedure is performed, Cryoablation can cost around $15,000 to $20,000.
  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are other methods of countering the abnormal multiplication of these cancerous cells. The treatment costs of liver cancer with this method can go up to $60,000 with an additional monthly expense of $2000 towards medical supplies.

Causes

Like all other types of cancer, liver cancer also develops due to mutations in the genes. These changes can be caused by various factors such as exposure to chemical agents called carcinogens or infection with hepatitis viruses. Sometimes causes may be unknown. The risk of liver cancer increases due to age, cirrhosis, diabetes, excessive alcohol intake, obesity and aflatoxin exposure.

Test & Procedures

A series of diagnostic procedures are used to diagnose liver cancer. It includes blood tests to gauge liver function. Imaging tests include ultrasound, CT scan, MRI and PET scan. Liver biopsy involves extracting a bit of liver tissue and examining it for pathological aberrations. Once diagnosed, the stage of liver cancer is determined through staging tests.

Liver Cancer Awareness Month & Ribbon
Month October 
Ribbon Emerald Green Color

Preventive Measures

Vaccination against hepatitis A, B and C, drinking alcoholic beverages in moderation and maintaining a healthy lifestyle including consumption of antioxidant foods are some of the ways you can prevent liver cancer.

Side Effects

  • Side effects of chemotherapy and radiation may include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, hair fall and fatigue.
  • Side effects of a Liver transplant could lead to graft rejection and even sudden collapse.
  • Removal of a part of the liver affects the optimum functions of liver, making the person susceptible to infection and digestive function impairment.
  • Cryoablation is a relatively side-effect free procedure with a rare occurrence of hemorrhage, frozen neighboring organs and infection.

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