Liver Cancer & Tumors 

Liver cancer develops in the cells of the liver, the football-shaped organ that lies just under the ribs on the right side of the body. Several types of cancer can form in the liver; the most common type of liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), which accounts for about 75% of cases. Cancer that spreads to the liver is more common than cancer that begins in the liver cells. Both noncancerous (benign) and cancerous (malignant) tumors can develop in the liver. 

Causes of Liver Cancer 

As with other types of cancer, the cause of liver cancer is unknown. However, there are certain factors that may increase someone’s risk of being diagnosed with this disease. These include: 

  • Excessive alcohol consumption 
  • Obesity 
  • Diabetes 
  • Cirrhosis 
  • Fatty liver disease 
  • Chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis C infection 
  • Hemochromatosis 
  • Wilson’s disease

Symptoms of Liver Cancer 

The signs of liver cancer typically aren’t noticeable in the disease’s early stages. As the cancer progresses, symptoms may present themselves such as: 

  • Unexplained weight loss 
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice) 
  • Fatigue and weakness 
  • Abdominal pain or swelling 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Chalky, light stools 
  • Nausea and vomiting

Liver Cancer Diagnosis 

Different tests and procedures used to diagnose liver cancer include: 

  • Blood tests 
  • Imaging tests such as an ultrasound, CT and MRI 
  • Removing a sample of liver tissue for testing (biopsy) 
  • Liver function tests
  • Hepatic angiography 

 
Additionally, once liver cancer is diagnosed, your doctor will work to determine the extent (stage) of the cancer. 

Liver Cancer Treatment 

Treatment options for liver cancer depend on the extent of the disease as well as your age and overall health. Based on these factors, treatment can include: 

  • Surgery to either remove the tumor or have a liver transplant 
  • Localized treatments such as heating and freezing cancer cells 
  • Radiation therapy 
  • Immunotherapy
  • Chemotherapy