The liver is one of the most important organs of the body as it is responsible for filtering the blood continuously for converting nutrients into necessary chemicals that are required by the body for various important purposes. The liver can develop cancer with a tumor originating in itself or through spread of cancerous cells from cancer from another part of the body.
The cancer which originates in the cells of the liver itself is called as ‘primary liver cancer’, while the cancer which is spread (metastasizes) to the liver from another part of the body is called as ‘secondary liver cancer’.
The secondary liver cancer types are the most common type of cancer and are spread to the liver from another organ or part of the body.
What are the Types of Liver Cancer?
As the liver consists of several different types of cells, the cancers that affect it are also categorized into different types. Some of the tumorous growths in the liver can be non-cancerous (benign) in nature, while others can metastasize (spread) to other surrounding parts and organs of the body.
These different types of tumors have different causes and hence their treatment also varies.
The common benign (non-cancerous) tumors of the liver are:
- Hepatic adenoma
- Focal nodular hyperplasia
These types of benign tumors are usually removed through surgical excision if they cause bleeding or pain.
Liver cancers mainly include:
- Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)
- Cholangiocarcinoma (these affect mainly the bile duct and not the liver directly)
What are the Causes of Liver Cancer?
The primary liver cancer (Hepatocellular carcinoma) usually develops in persons whose liver might be damaged due to:
- Birth (congenital) defects
- Alcohol abuse
- Chronic infection (hepatitis B/C)
- Liver cirrhosis
- Fatty liver disease
- Exposure to certain chemicals (arsenic, vinyl chloride)
- Aflatoxins (carcinogenic agents made by a particular plant mold)
- Androgen/Estrogen hormone supplements
- Anabolic steroid abuse (athletic steroid abuse)
- Hereditary metabolic diseases
Signs and Symptoms of Liver Cancer?
Although liver cancer causes no noticeable symptoms on its own, the growing tumor may cause a feeling of fullness too soon while eating, or even pain in the right side of the abdomen.
The other common signs and symptoms of advanced liver cancer (usually caused due to an underlying medical disease or disorder) are:
- Worsening of the diseases’ symptoms before cancer starts to develop completely
- Unexplained loss in weight
- Wasting (cachexia)
- Decrease in diet
- Swollen feet/belly/legs
- Jaundice symptoms (yellowed eyes and skin)
How is Liver Cancer Diagnosed?
In case a liver cancer is suspected the doctor is likely to advise:
- Blood tests – AFP (Alfa-fetoprotein) level in the bloodstream may be as high in most patients affected with liver cancer. A rising AFP level in the body is a telltale sign of a developing liver cancer.
- Imaging tests – Liver cancers can also be distinguished using multi-phase helical computerized tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) imaging tests with contrast dyes. This is also helpful in determining the location and range of the blood vessel connecting the tumor.
- Liver biopsy – This is a small surgical excision procedure used to remove a piece of the tumor (cancerous tissue) in order to be sent for detailed analysis at the pathology laboratory. This helps not only to confirm the diagnosis of the liver cancer it also helps to determine the type of cells that are affected by cancer and to chalk out a suitable plan of treatment for it.
What is the Treatment for Liver Cancer?
The extent of cancer’s spread, as well as the overall functionality of the liver affected by liver cancer, determine the type of treatment required for it.
These are the commonly performed treatments for liver cancer:
Liver cancer surgery involves removing the cancer-affected portion of the liver using surgical methods. This is an ideal treatment method for tumors in the liver that are smaller in size.
This procedure requires the surgeon to remove the affected liver completely and replace it with a healthy liver from a donor. This is an ideal form of treatment in cases of advanced cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver and the tumor cannot be removed using surgical methods.
This procedure works by killing the cancerous cells in the affected liver using non-surgical and non-invasive methods. This technique may use heat or laser energy to kill the cancerous cells from outside the body or it may use special alcohol/acid injected into the liver to destroy the cancer cells in it. This is mostly used in the palliative care phase of liver cancer treatment.
This liver cancer treatment technique involves blocking the blood supply to cancer using catheters to inject particles/artificial beads to block the particular blood vessel that connects to the tumor. Lack of blood supply eventually results in shrinking of the tumor in size. This is an ideal form of pre-treatment procedure for larger-sized liver cancers (tumors) and is used as a palliative method.
Chemotherapy uses a set of specially-designed medicinal drugs to destroy the cancer cells in the liver. These drugs can be administered orally, or through intravenous methods (injections/catheters) directly into the liver.
Radiotherapy (radiation therapy) uses high-energy rays of particles (such as x-rays) to target the tumor in the liver and destroy it with the intense heat generated by it.
Why Choose Travcure for Liver Cancer Treatment in India?
Travcure is the leader in providing efficient and affordable medical tourism services for a large variety of medical disease and disorders, in India. It is connected to the largest network of comprehensive and multi-specialty hospitals and clinics spread across all of India’s major cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, etc. These are all world-class healthcare facilities with the highest standards of quality in service and healthcare being maintained. These are equipped with the latest and most modern medical technology and managed by India’s most experienced and talented medical professionals and specialists. Travcure offers every patient with only the most affordable treatment package that includes the most efficient and effective liver cancer treatment in India.