Primary liver cancers
Primary liver cancer is one of the less common cancers in Victoria with about 260 people diagnosed each year. It is more common in men and people aged over 65 years. Most primary liver cancers start in liver cells (hepatocellular carcinoma); others start in a bile duct (cholangiocarcinoma).
In the Western world, most people who develop primary liver cancer also have cirrhosis of the liver. This is scarring of the liver due to causes including heavy alcohol drinking over a long period of time. However, only a small number of people who have cirrhosis of the liver develop primary liver cancer. Infection with hepatitis B, C or D can also increase the risk of cirrhosis and, later, primary liver cancer.
Benefits vs. Risks
- Chemoembolization can stop liver tumors from growing or cause them to shrink in 2/3 of cases treated. This benefit, on average, lasts 10-14 months.
- Chemoembolization can be used in conjunction with other cancer treatments including tumor ablation, radiation and chemotherapy.
- Most patients don't die from the spread of cancer if it is confined to the liver, but rather from liver failure caused by the tumors growth. Chemoembolization can help prevent the growth of a tumor, preserving liver function and a relatively normal quality of life.
- Two randomized controlled trials published in 2002 showed improved survival in patients with hepatoma (primary liver cancer) after chemoembolization compared to supportive care alone.
- Embolus (tiny particles) can lodge in the wrong place and deprive normal tissue of its blood supply.
- Even if antibiotics are given, there is always a risk of infection after embolization.
- There is a risk of an allergic reaction to the dye used in the angiography x-ray.
- There is a risk of kidney damage in patients with diabetes or other pre-existing kidney disease due to the angiography.
- Nausea, hair loss, decreases in white blood cells and platelets, and anemia may occur due to the chemotherapy drug.
- After 1 in 20 procedures, serious complications occur and typically include liver infection or damage to the liver. Liver failure is usually the cause of the 1 in 100 deaths related to this procedure.
Causes and Risk factors
The exact cause of primary liver cancer is still unknown. There are a number of factors, however, that increase your risk of developing it.
These include : -
- Liver cirrhosis In the Western world, most people who develop hepatoma usually also have a condition called cirrhosis of the liver. This is a fine scarring throughout the liver which is due to a variety of causes including infection and heavy alcohol drinking over a long period of time. However, only a small proportion of people who have cirrhosis of the liver develop primary liver cancer.
- Infection Infection with either the hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus can lead to liver cancer. This can also be the cause of cirrhosis, which in turn increases the risk of developing hepatoma. The risk is greater in those that also smoke.
- Inherited conditions People who have a condition called haemochromatosis, which causes excess deposits of iron in the body, or the condition alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency, have a higher chance of developing hepatoma.
- Aflatoxin In Africa and Asia a poison called aflatoxin, found in mouldy peanuts and grain, is a major cause of hepatoma.
Liver cancer is usually diagnosed with a number of different tests, which may include : -
- Blood tests - to check your general health and to check for a chemical usually found in increased levels in people with primary liver cancer.
- Ultrasound - a picture of the liver is taken using sound waves.
- CT scan - a specialised x-ray taken from many different angles to build a three-dimensional (3-D) picture of the body.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - similar to a CT scan, but uses magnetism instead of x-rays to build a picture of the body.
- Liver biopsy - a small piece of liver tissue is removed with a needle and examined for cancer cells.
- Laparoscopy - a small cut in the lower abdomen allows a thin mini-telescope (laparoscope) to be inserted to look at the liver and take a sample of the liver tissue.
What are the treatment options for liver cancer?
The treatment options are dictated by the stage of liver cancer and the overall condition of the patient. The only proven cure for liver cancer is liver transplantation for a solitary, small (<3cm) tumor. Now, many physicians may dispute this statement. They may argue that a small tumor can be surgically removed (partial hepatic resection) without the need for a liver transplantation. Moreover, they may claim that the one and three year survival rates for resection are perhaps comparable to those for liver transplantation.
For more information, medical assessment and medical quote
as email attachment to
Email : - firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Center Tel. (+91) 9029304141 (10 am. To 8 pm. IST)
(Only for international patients seeking treatment in India)