Liver Cancer

It is possible that the cancers that originate in other vital organs such as the colon, stomach, lungs, breasts, and pancreas, may spread to the liver. Though cancers of the liver cells do occur, they are rare. Cancer often starts within the liver and is the fifth most common type of cancer in the world. This cancer is more common in other ethnicities as compared to Caucasians.

What is Liver Cancer?

Liver cancer is often confused with a cancer type which has originated elsewhere in the body and has metastasized to the liver. However, factually liver cancer is something entirely different. As its name suggests, liver cancer is a cancer that affects the liver. There are a lot of different cells that make up the liver. However, it is the hepatocytes that make up the liver primarily. In a majority of cases, the hepatocytes or the liver cells begin to grow abnormally, causing liver cancer.

Liver cancer can be really dangerous. The cancer develops slowly and often stealthily. By the time the cancer is diagnosed, it has usually spread to other nearby organs. However, once the cancer begins to spread to the other organs, it can spread out really fast. By the time the lower cancer symptoms begin to show, the prognosis of the cancer is very poor and most patients are not able to live for more than five years without proper treatment. Early diagnosis and surgery can help treat the cancer completely and put it into remission.

Chronic viral hepatitis is commonly associated with liver cancer. Alcoholics are more prone to developing such a kind of cancer. Viral hepatitis and cirrhosis may also cause liver cancer.

Alternative Names:
  • Primary liver cancer
  • Hepatoma
  • Hepatocellular cancer

Frequently asked questions
  1. Shu-Chun Chuang, Carlo La Vecchia, Paolo Boffetta, Liver cancer: Descriptive epidemiology and risk factors other than HBV and HCV infection, Cancer Letters, Volume 286, Issue 1, 1 December 2009, Pages 9-14, ISSN 0304-3835, 10.1016/j.canlet.2008.10.040.
  2. W. Thomas London, Liver Cancer: Etiology and Prevention, In: Editor-in-Chief:   Joseph R. Bertino, Editor(s)-in-Chief, Encyclopedia of Cancer (Second Edition), Academic Press, New York, 2002, Pages 39-44, ISBN 9780122275555, 10.1016/B0-12-227555-1/00123-4.