Liver cancer happens when an unhealthy cancer cell starts to grow out of control and form a tumor in the inner walls of liver. Liver cancer is an uncommon type of cancer. There are two types of liver cancer – primary liver cancer and secondary liver cancer.
When the cancer tumor starts growing inside the liver it is called primary liver cancer. In secondary liver cancer, the cancer tumor is found in the liver but it has spread from other parts of the body. It can be from the colon, stomach, lungs or brain.
General Symptoms of Liver Cancer
Sometimes, the symptoms are not easily identified until liver cancer reaches the advanced stage. These signs and symptoms differ from patient to the patient. The symptoms of liver cancer are as follows.
- Sudden weight loss
- Abdominal pain & Swelling
- Back pain
- Vomiting and Nausea
- Loss of appetite or feeling full after eating a small meal
Many of these symptoms can be for the different types of liver infection but if these symptoms continue for a long time then doctor consultation for accurate diagnosis is required.According to Dr Sandeep Nayak, one of the best oncologist in India “Vague pain in the upper part of abdomen could be the only symptom of liver cancer. However, the diagnosis is reached based on investigations which include various blood tests including liver functions tests and imaging tests like CT scan and MRI scan.”
Stages in Liver cancer
The stage of cancer is determined by the size of the tumor and the area where it has spread in the body. Liver cancer has 4 stages.
- Stage 1
In Stage 1, the cancer tumor is in the liver but not spread into another nearby organ. Stage 1 of liver cancer is divided into 2 parts- Stage 1A and Stage 1B.In Stage 1A liver cancer tumor size is 2cm or less. And it has not reached to any blood vessel. In Stage 1B of liver cancer, the tumor size is 2cm or more but the tumor is not reached to nearby blood vessels.
- Stage 2
In stage 2 liver cancers, the tumor size is 2cm and more and it reached to blood vessel of the liver or there can be multiple tumors less than 5cm in diameter. In stage 2 liver cancer, tumor has not spread to nearby lymph nodes.
- Stage 3
In Stage 3, there are multiple tumors in liver and it can be larger than 5cm. Cancer may grow to blood vessels in the liver. In this stage, cancer has spread to nearby organ like pancreas or gallbladder.
- Stage 4
In stage 4, liver cancer tumors are spread to blood vessel and nearby organs in the body, but liver cancer does not travel to long distance organ but it may reach to lungs or nearby bones.
Causes of liver cancer
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Diseases- hepatitis B and C, hemochromatosis and cirrhosis
- Exposure to aflatoxins
- Low immune system
- Family History
Prevention for liver cancer
Liver cancer is an uncommon cancer but liver organ for the human body. There are many ways to prevent the liver cancer. These are some prevention advices given by one of the best oncologist in India, Dr. Sandeep Nayak. The preventions for liver cancer are as follows:
- Alcohol intake should be limited
Drinking excessive amount of alcohol is not good for liver. Patient with diseases like hepatitis and other diseases, they should stop the consumption of alcohol completely. The excessive drinking can cause cirrhosis, which will result in liver damage.
- Maintain a healthy diet and weight
Every patient should maintain healthy weight, because obesity is the risk factor of liver diseases. So maintaining healthy diet and weight can reduce the risk of liver cancer.
- Take vaccination of hepatitis B
The vaccination for hepatitis B should be given to infants according to routine. The risk of Hepatitis can be reduced by Hepatitis B vaccine. The patient with low immunity system should be given this vaccination in order to prevent from hepatitis B.
- Take measures to prevent Hepatitis C
There is no vaccination of Hepatitis C but protected sex should be priority for everyone. The usage of condom during sex can reduce the risk of hepatitis C.
- Quit smoking
Smoking increases the measured risk of liver cancer. If you quit smoking, the risk of the liver cancer as well as few other cancers can be minimized. A study found out that, smoking can increase the risk of cancer by 25%. So the patient should quit smoking to decrease the risk of liver cancer.
Treatment for Liver cancer
Treatment for liver cancer depends on the stage of the cancer. Treatment also depends on age and health of the patient. Treatments for liver cancer are as follows:
- Surgery to remove liver cancer
When the liver cancer is in the early stages, surgery is possible to remove tumor from liver. Doctors remove the tiny tissues surrounded by tumor through the surgery. Nowadays doctors prefer minimally invasive technique like laparoscopic surgery, robotic surgery for removing the tumor. Dr. Sandeep Nayak also considered as the best surgical oncologist in India for laparoscopic cancer surgeries. says” Laparoscopy can be useful for detecting small tumor and laparoscopic surgery helps the doctors to remove tumor”.
- Liver transplant surgery
Liver transplant surgery is done when cancer tumor is not spread outside the liver. For the liver transplant surgery, the tumor size should be less than 5cm and there. This treatment is possible when suitable donor is available.
- Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy is used when the other treatment is not useful to cure the cancer. Radiation therapy is used in advanced stages to control liver cancer. In radiation therapy, the use of high energy x-rays are used to kill cancer cells.
- Targeted therapy
Targeted therapy treatment is used in advanced stages of liver cancer. Targeted therapy is a drug treatment that targets liver cancer’s specific cancer tissue which provide nutrient to the cancer cell and try to destroy the cancer cell. This treatment helps to block the growth and spread of cancer cells.
Immunotherapy is used to boost human body’s defense mechanism to fight the cancer cells. It is used to restore the immune system function in body. In the human body, the disease-fighting immune system may not attack cancer because the cancer cells produce proteins that blind the immune system cells. Immunotherapy works by interfering with that process.
For the early stage of liver cancer, surgery is useful to remove the tumor from the liver. There are different types of surgeries available in India for liver cancer. Laparoscopic liver resection is one of the modern types of surgery which is used to remove the liver mass or part of the liver which is affected by cancer. Laparoscope allows the doctors to easily see and diagnose many problems. Laparoscopic surgery is expensive but according to Dr. Sandeep Nayak this surgery helps to reduce pain and discomfort for the patient.
Laparoscopic surgery is performing through various small incisions in the abdomen. Then ports are inserted to allow access from various angles and serve as the path to a laparoscope and other tools. After this insertion, the surgery is performed with the utmost care by doctors. Doctors can see real-time images and videos while performing the surgery.
As the laparoscopic surgery is minimal invasive surgery, the recovery time is faster than traditional way of surgery. As the surgery is expensive but there are so many advantages associate with laparoscopic surgery.
Dr Sandeep Nayak- The pioneer of laparoscopy surgery in India. He and his team of doctors have treated more than 100 patients in Bangalore, India. Dr Nayak has travelled abroad to complete his fellowship in laparoscopy and robotic surgery.
It is recommend to visit Dr Nayak if the liver cancer is in the initial stages and laparoscopic surgery can be used to this type of treatment.