Liver Cancer: What causes it?
Liver Cancer refers to the abnormal growth of cells in the liver. There are two types of Liver Cancer:
- Primary liver cancer is where the cancer starts in the liver. This can be further divided into Hepatocellular carcinoma and Cholangiocarcinoma.
- Secondary metastatic liver cancer is where the cancer spreads to the liver from another part of the body.
Overall 75% to 80% of liver cancer cases are related to HBV (50% to 55%) or HCV (25% to 30%) infections. Other causes include:
- Chronic Alcohol abuse
- Cigarette smoking
- Aflatoxin – produced by Aspergillus spp
- Chemicals – Nitrites, hydrocarbons, solvents, pesticides, vinyl chloride
- Thorotrast – Angiographic medium
- Metabolic liver disease – Hereditary hemochromatosis, Alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency, Wilson disease
- OCPs and anabolic steroids – have weak association
- Obesity and diabetes – are closely associated with type of liver abnormality called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) that may increase risk of liver cancer
If a patient reports the above symptoms the doctor may suggest some tests to diagnose the disease. Physical examination, blood tests, a CT Scan, MRI, ultrasound or a biopsy many be required.
When detected early, a patient can have different treatment options available, allowing the treatment to be carried out with higher chances of success.