Liver cancer

Liver cancer refers to liver cell carcinoma as well as the more common liver metastases (separate chapter).

Overview

Liver cancer refers to liver cell carcinoma as well as the more common liver metastases (separate chapter). Liver cirrhosis is the most common cause by far of liver cell carcinoma. Symptoms such as pressure and pressure pain in the upper abdomen, loss of appetite and weight loss tend only to appear at a later stage. These symptoms should be discussed with a doctor.

Symptoms

  • Early symptoms
    • For a long time during the early stage, no typical symptoms
    • Pressure/pressure pain in the upper abdomen
    • Nausea
    • Fever
    • Lack of appetite, weight loss
  • Late symptoms
    • Increase in abdominal girth owing to build-up of fluid in the abdomen (ascites)
    • Yellow discolouration of skin (icterus)
    • Palpable knotty changes

Causes and treatment

Causes

Primary liver carcinoma (hepatocellular carcinoma)
Liver metastases (see main chapter)

Examination

  • Physical examination
  • Blood test
  • Imaging tests
    • Ultrasound (sonography)
    • CT scan (computed tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)

Therapy

  • Operation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Liver transplant
  • Local destruction of cancer cells
    • Heat (high frequency current)
    • Injection of chemotherapeutic agents or ethanol directly into the tumour
    • Blocking of the artery that feeds the tumour (chemoembolisation)

What can I do myself?

When to see a doctor?

  • Upper abdomen symptoms
    • Persistent pressure or dull pain
    • Palpable knotty changes
  • Jaundice
  • Increase in abdominal girth in spite of lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Alcoholism
  • For diagnosed liver cirrhosis: regular examinations to ensure early identification of a liver tumour (ultrasound)

Further information

Swiss Cancer League (Schweizerische Krebsliga)
www.krebsliga.ch

Selbsthilfe Schweiz (Self-Help Support Switzerland)
www.selbsthilfeschweiz.ch

Synonyms

liver cancer, liver cell cancer, liver carcinoma, hepatocellular carcinoma, HCC, primary liver cell carcinoma, liver cell carcinoma

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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