Cancerous (malignant) tumours of the liver can be two very different types: primary cancer and secondary cancer. Primary liver cancer which starts in the liver itself. Secondary liver cancer which started in another part of the body and has spread to the liver. There are often no symptoms in the early stages of liver cancer, so it is most often caught when it has already spread. Only limited number of liver cancer can be removed by surgery, most of them are early cases. The causes of primary liver cancer include cirrhosis, infection (chronic hepatitis B or C), haemachromatosis (a rare condition causing excessive iron deposits in body), aflatoxin (a poison found in mouldy peanuts and grain), ulcerative colitis and liver fluke (a parasite infection in liver).
The cause of secondary liver cancer is always a primary cancer situated elsewhere in the body that has spread to the liver. If cancer cells from the primary cancer have escaped into the bloodstream, the liver is a likely place for them to settle as all the blood in the body passes through the liver.
There may be no symptoms in the early stages of liver cancer, the following symptoms may occur only at later stages:
Feeling bloated, hard lump below right rib cage on the right side, discomfort or pain on the right shoulder
Fluid builds up in abdomen, veins can be seen underneath the surface of the skin
Yellowing of the eyes, itchy skin
Dark urine, pale stools
Coagulation factor deficiency causing abnormal bruising and bleeding
Loss of appetite, weight loss
Nausea and vomiting
The above symptoms are common to many health conditions far less serious than liver cancer. Not all liver cancer patients show the above symptoms too. If any of these symptoms present, please consult your doctor immediately.
Reduce your risks
Get a hepatitis B vaccination
Avoid or limit alcohol consumption
For more cancer-related information and support, please visit the Hong Kong Cancer Fund website or contact Hong Kong Cancer Fund free enquiry hotline: (852) 3656 0800
Source: Hong Kong Cancer Fund
The information on this page is for reference only. It is not intended to constitute a recommendation, and it is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. You should not act on any information on this page without seeking specific professional advice.