Liver Cancer

The liver has a variety of different functions, including filtering wastes from the blood and breaking down nutrients. This organ is made up of many different kinds of cells, so the types of tumors that can form in the liver are varied.

Types of cancers that begin in the liver include:

  • Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) – begins in the hepatocytes, main type of liver cell; about 4 out of 5 liver cancers are HCC
  • Bile duct cancer – begins in the small bile ducts of the liver; about 2 out every 10 cases are bile duct cancer
  • Hepatoblastoma – a rare cancer that usually only occurs in children under the age of 4
  • Angiosarcoma and hemangiosarcoma – begins in the blood vessels of the liver and usually spreads quickly

Liver Cancer Risk Factors

The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 30,640 new cases of liver cancer and bile duct cancer are diagnosed in the United States annually.

Risk factors include:

  • Being a man
  • Drinking alcohol heavily
  • Having type 2 diabetes
  • Being obese
  • Using tobacco
  • Having chronic viral hepatitis

Signs & Symptoms of Liver Cancer

See your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • A swollen mass under the ribs
  • A swollen spleen
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes)
  • Swollen veins in the belly
  • A worsening of symptoms if you have cirrhosis or chronic hepatitis

Liver Cancer Diagnosis & Treatment

Liver cancer is often not detected until it is in its late stages. Someone who is at high risk such as an individual with long-term cirrhosis may want to discuss screening options with their doctor. These may take the form of imaging tests or an alpha fetoprotein blood (AFB) test, which tests for a protein in the blood. 

Liver cancer treatment will likely involve a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. Chemoembolization or radioembolization may be recommended, both of which involve injecting drugs directly into the artery that carries blood to the tumor. 

Liver Cancer Education, Screenings & Treatment at BayCare

BayCare is proud to offer a variety of cancer services throughout Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg and all of Tampa Bay. Call (855) 314-8346 for a physician referral or find a doctor near you.