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(Malignant Hepatoma; Hepatocellular Carcinoma; Primary Liver Cancer)
- Infection with the hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus
- Infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Formation of scar tissue in the liver, also known as cirrhosis
- Alcohol use disorder
- Exposure to an infectious agent, such as a liver fluke, which is found in southern Pacific countries
- Abnormal collection of iron in body tissues—hemochromatosis
- Hereditary metabolic disorders such as alpha-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency and tyrosinemia
Exposure to certain chemicals:
- Aflatoxin—a substance made by a fungus that often infects wheat, peanuts, soybeans, corn, and rice in tropical and subtropical regions
- Vinyl chloride and thorium dioxide—chemicals that are strictly controlled
- Anabolic steroids—male hormones sometimes given for medical reasons, but also taken by athletes to increase strength
- Toxins, such as arsenic
|Liver Cancer Due to Cirrhosis|
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- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Dark urine
- Excessive itchiness of the skin
- Confusion and increased sleepiness
- Yellowing of the skin and/or the whites of the eye
- Surgery—Removal of the cancerous tumor and nearby tissue, and possibly nearby lymph nodes. Some patients may have complete removal of the liver followed by a liver transplant.
- Cryosurgery—Destroys tumors by freezing them with a metal probe.
- Ethanol ablation—Kills cancer cells by injecting alcohol directly into the tumor.
Radiation therapy—The use of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may be:
- External—Radiation is directed at the liver from a source outside the body.
- Internal—Radiation is placed as close as possible to the cancer cells. Radiation seeds or compounds are delivered directly to the tumor through a special catheter that is placed in the hepatic artery, which delivers blood to the liver.
- Radiofrequency ablation—This involves using heat to destroy the tumor. Imaging machines are used to guide the probe to the tumor site.
- Chemotherapy—Drugs enter the bloodstream and travel through the body to kill mostly cancer cells and some healthy cells; may be given by pill, injection, and via a catheter directly into the liver.
- Sorafenib—A new class of therapies targeting vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGF); used for advanced liver cancer.
- Biological therapy—The use of medications or substances made by the body to increase or restore the body's natural defenses against cancer; also called biological response modifier (BRM) therapy.
- Always use a clean needle if you use needles to inject medication or drugs. Do not share needles with anyone.
- Always use condoms when having sexual intercourse if you or your partner is not in a monogamous relationship, or if you don't know if your partner has hepatitis.
- Drink alcohol moderately, which is a maximum of 2 drinks per day for men and a maximum of 1 drink per day for women.
- Have children vaccinated against hepatitis B.
- Eat a healthy diet that includes white meat, fish, and plenty of vegetables.
- Reviewer: Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
- Review Date: 09/2016
- Update Date: 10/19/2015