Liver cancer is not common among patients in the United States, however in other countries there is a much higher rate of occurrence. Men are more commonly affected than women, and the average age of a liver cancer patient at the time of diagnosis is 60 years old.
The two most common types of liver cancer are the hepatocellular and cholangiocarcinoma varieties. The former attacks the cells of the liver, while the latter affects the bile ducts within the liver. It is also important to note that liver cancer is generally only seen in cancer recurrence. Metastases will frequently target the liver maybe due to the high amount of blood flow through the organ – although initial cancers are rarely found in liver tissue.
Liver parasites are thought to maybe bear the responsibility for causing liver cancer in the bile ducts. These parasites are frequently found in the livers of patients from Africa. Perhaps this explains the uncommon onset of liver cancer as an initial diagnosis in the U.S.
Treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy or even radiation therapy. There are many options for radiation that can be used to target and shrink tumors on the liver, and most are extremely successful. Prognosis with liver cancer varies, however it is important to realize that since this often marks a recurrence from another part of the body, the prognosis may be quite diminished if metastases are discovered in other locations as well as the liver.
Symptoms of liver cancer may include:
- Upper Abdominal Pain
- Decreased appetite or weight loss
- Fatigue resulting from a high presence of ammonia
- Mild to Severe Jaundice