Liver cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably in the liver, forming a cancerous tumour.
Liver cancer can be divided into four stages.
Liver cancer diagnosis involves a number of tests. You may undergo an ultrasound, which looks for tumours in the liver; CT scan, where images are used to provide precise information on the size and position of any tumours; MRI scan; angiography, which shows the arteries that supply blood to a liver cancer; laparoscopy; or biopsy, which involves removing tissue from the tumour to examine.
Further tests may also be required, often to see if the cancer has spread beyond the liver.
Symptoms for liver cancer are unlikely to appear in the early stages of the disease, however common signs include weakness and fatigue, pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, severe pain and/or swelling of the abdomen, loss of appetite, weight loss, yellowing skin and eyes, pale bowel motions and fever.
Certain risk factors can play a role in the development of liver cancer. These include:
- Hepatitis – Chronic infection from Hepatitis B or C is a significant risk factor for liver cancer
- Pre-existing conditions – Including fatty liver disease, haemochromatosis, alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency or type 2 diabetes
- Liver scarring
- High alcohol consumption
- Exposure to certain chemicals