Liver cancer is also called hepatocellular carcinoma or hepatoma. Mostly it occurs in Africa and Asia but it is becoming more frequent in Europe and the US as an aggravated Hepatitis C infection. Two main types of liver cancer are distinguished. These are hepatoma and cholangiocarcinoma.
Hepatoma is diagnosed when the cancer of hepatocytes is being observed. Hepatocytes are the most important liver cells. Normally, hepatoma grows as a ball like tumor; some of healthy unaffected tissue involved. Hepatitis B virus increases the risks of having hepatoma. Cholangiocarcinoma is the cancer of the bile duct cells. Its primary cause is infestation with the liver fluke. The cancer spreads in lines or sheets, and it's very hard to find it even on X-ray tests.
Liver cancer is in most cases metastatic cancer, i.e. cancer that began in another organ and spread to adjoining or a far remote one in the blood or lymphatic system. Because of its biological functions (blood flow) liver often is the most common place for metastatic cancer. So tumors are originated from stomach, colon, lung or breast.
Liver cancer treatment and symptoms depend on the liver cancer staging. In most cases symptoms include pain in the abdominal area (right upper), loss of appetite and consequently weight loss, males have breasts swollen, problems with blood clots, bloating and nausea.
What causes liver cancer? Now it's known that damaged livers are more likely to be affected by liver cancer. One cause has been set out. Its vinyl chloride, a toxic chemical element often applied in industry. People got infected by vinyl chloride either breathing contaminated air or drinking contaminated water. Other causes of liver cancer are still unknown, except that people with Hepatitis B conditions are more vulnerable to liver cancer.
Liver cancer staging is the process of finding out the extent of the cancer, i.e. how widespread the cancer is. Liver cancer staging is the most important constituent of liver cancer prognosis and treatment process. Further treatment primarily depends on the results of cancer staging. There have been determined three stages of liver cancer development. They are localized resectable, localized unresectable and advanced disease.
In cases of localized resectable stage cancer affects a part of the liver, so surgical removal is the most common and effective way of treatment. Under conditions of localized unresectable stage tumor affects important and vital blood vessels, so surgery is not possible. Advanced disease means that all lobes of the liver are affected. In such cases metastases to other organs like lungs, bones and lymph nodes are very frequent.
Depending on the liver cancer staging different methods of treatment are applied. Surgery is possible when none of the vital blood vessels are involved. Chemo- and drug-therapy is often used after surgery. Radiation therapy is frequently combined with surgery and chemotherapy to relieve pain. Cryosurgery techniques are nowadays applied only by a few qualified specialists. In the most extreme cases liver transplantation takes place.