We all know that liver is the largest internal organ of a human body and it is only one in number. This makes it a really important part of the body. It is located below the right lung and under the rib cage. It has got various functions to do which includes an important function of removing toxins from the body as it is important for surviving. Now, the liver is just another organ and can be infected by cancer too. When the liver is primarily affected by cancer, it is known as liver cancer. This consists of hepatic tumors present in or on the liver. In one of our previous posts, we also talked about when is liver transplant needed?
Well, cancer is a deadly disease and it cannot be detected until the time comes when it starts showing its symptoms. For knowing what are the symptoms of this disease, you will need to know them.
SYMPTOMS FOR LIVER CANCER
The cancer is a silent disease and same it does with the liver. The signs and symptoms are not visible and cannot be traced until the time cancer reaches an advanced stage. But there are some effects that liver can trigger and they are given as follows:
- Abdominal pain
- Back Pain
- Unexplained weight loss
- An enlarged liver
These are the effects that can be seen after the liver is affected. Do not forget to keep a check and if you think that you have been seeing many of these effects, consult a doctor and get yourself checked properly. The treatment depends upon the stage of liver cancer a patient is going through. For that, read next section.
STAGES FOR LIVER CANCER
The course of the liver cancer treatment can be decided by staging cancer. Liver cancer is basically categorized into four stages and these are:
STAGE I: In this stage, the tumor is in the liver and has not spread yet to any other organ or location.
STAGE II: Either many small tumors are there which remain in the liver, or one tumor has already reached to a blood vessel.
STAGE III: In this stage, either there are a large number of tumors or one tumor that has reached the main blood vessels. Cancer might have also touched the gallbladder.
STAGE IV: Cancer affecting the liver has metastasized, meaning that it has also spread to various other body parts. This is the last or the final stage of the liver cancer.
After the stage is checked, the treatment starts totally based on the stage of liver cancer a person has.
LIVER CANCER TREATMENT
Cancer can be treated for the people who have an early stage liver cancer. The surgery is an option where the tumors will be removed completely and lead to a chance of recovery. The options for surgery include the following:
When the tumor is small and occupies only a small part of the liver, that liver part can be removed surgically. There are many people who have cirrhosis, meaning that the hepatectomy needs to leave enough of the healthy tissues behind for liver to perform the necessary functions after the procedure is over. If the risk to the patient is high, then the procedure might get canceled halfway. Partial hepatectomy is considered for those people only who have a healthy liver functioning. Usually, this procedure is not an option as cancer has already spread to various other parts of the body. The liver surgery of such scale can lead to blood clotting issues and excessive bleeding, and pneumonia and infections too.
The candidates who will be going for the liver transplant must not have a tumor exceeding 5 cm or various tumors larger than 3 cm. The risk that cancer can return is great to justify a procedure of transplant if the tumor exceeds these limits. The risk is reduced greatly with a successful transplant and the normal functions are restored. However, as it is a transplant, the body can reject the new organ and attack it, limiting the opportunities of carrying out the transplants. Then, the patients have to take immunosuppressive medicines which suppress the immune system and it can lead to infections. Occasionally, it might also spread the already metastasized tumors.
LIVER CANCER TREATMENT FOR INCURABLE TUMORS
As we already know that advanced liver cancer has a very low rate of survival. However, there are some steps that are taken by a medical team so that the cancer symptoms can be treated and the growth of the tumor can be slowed down. The steps are given below:
ABLATIVE THERAPY: There are some substances which are inserted directly into the tumor, like alcohol. In this therapy, lasers and radio waves can be used too.
RADIATION THERAPY: In this, the radiation is directed at the tumors or tumor, which kills a significant number of the tumors. There are some side effects like nausea, fatigue, and vomiting.
CHEMOTHERAPY: There are some medications which are inserted into the liver so that the cancer cells can be killed. In chemoembolization, the blood supply to the tumors is blocked mechanically or surgically, and then the anti-cancer drugs are directly administered into the tumor.
Cancer is a life-threatening disease and must not be taken casually. In order to fight back the disease properly, you need to focus on the effects that the liver might go through and if any of this show up, contact a doctor soon.
IMMUNOTHERAPY: It is also known as biologic therapy wherein body’s natural defense mechanism is enhanced to fight cancer cells. Even after getting treated by the cancer treatments as mentioned above sometimes cancer relapses. Immunotherapy targets to destroy only cancerous cells using body’s own immune system resulting in reducing the growth of cancer and thus prolonging the life expectancy.