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In comparison with other types of cancer, liver cancer is rare. In fact, the American Liver Foundation says that there are only about 30,000 cases of it diagnosed in the United States each year. Unfortunately, about 29,000 of the people who get it will die from the illness though. One of the main reasons for this is that liver cancer often presents no symptoms in people until it has reached its later stages.
Also, many people don't realize that the symptoms that they get are indicative of a major illness like this one because they are so vague. Because of this, it is crucial that those who have the highest risk of developing liver cancer understand what the main causes and symptoms of it are so that they can get treatment faster and increase their chances of survival.
Cirrhosis of the liver is one of the main causes of liver cancer. It occurs most commonly in those who drink alcohol excessively on a regular basis. Sometimes, it can happen as a result of a hepatitis B or C infection though. Whenever a person has cirrhosis of the liver, their liver develops deep scar tissue that doesn't heal, which leads to the organ not being able to function properly. Type-two diabetes is another condition that can damage the organ though. But it is also possible for a person to develop liver cancer because they are obese though since their extra weight causes stress on their organs and widespread inflammation throughout their body. Some research has shown that certain genetic disorders that increase the risk of cirrhosis of the liver may be to blame for liver cancer too.
The following is a list of some of the most common symptoms that the condition causes:
Jaundice is a condition wherein the liver stops processing old red blood cells out of the body as it should. This leads to a substance called bilirubin building up in the blood. Since bilirubin is yellow, it causes the skin and eyes to look yellow. Jaundice can occur for many different reasons, such as alcoholism or a systemic infection. And even babies can be born with it. Whenever this happens, doctors often recommend that a mother exposes their new infant to sunlight each day to help clear it up. However, this treatment method won't work if a person has cancer in their liver though because the organ is too badly damaged.
Most types of liver cancer involve a tumor that grows on the liver. Since the organ is positioned in the upper quadrant of the right side of the abdomen, the tumor can sometimes become noticeable because of the swelling that it induces in this area of the body. Some people may mistake this symptom as a common case of edema though.
Part of the liver is positioned right above the stomach. So when it becomes inflamed and swollen from a cancerous tumor, it firmly presses down on it. This causes a person to feel full after eating only a small amount of food. Some people will lose their appetite completely. As a result of this, a significant amount of weight loss occurs without a person making any other changes to their diet or exercise regimen.
The main job of the liver is to remove toxins from the blood. Whenever cancer is present in the organ, it can't do this as efficiently as it normally would though. This causes the toxins to build up in the body, which, in turn, leads to a person feeling very weak and tired all the time. Rest does little to help this symptom. No matter how much a person sleeps, their energy will not improve.
Cancer of the liver can also cause white or grayish stools, especially if a person has already entered the end stages of the disease or their liver is failing. This symptom most commonly occurs because of the liver's inability to produce bile that the body needs for processing food. However, it can also sometimes happen when a bile duct is blocked or a person is experiencing problems with their pancreas.
Some cases of liver cancer can cause a person to become delirious. That means that they no longer understand their situation or their surroundings. Some of the signs of delirium include confusion, drastic changes to a person's behavior or thoughts, trouble sleeping, and amnesia. Luckily, this symptom of liver cancer is treatable with medications that help balance out the neurochemicals in the brain that have been affected by the condition.
The same cancer cells that cause a tumor to grow on the liver are also responsible for the destruction of healthy cells in the body. They do this to ensure the survival of the tumor and allow it to have enough room to increase in size. What this essentially means is that the larger that a cancerous liver tumor grows, the smaller the healthy portion of the liver becomes. As this happens, it causes a person an incredible amount of pain that is so severe that doctors often have to treat it with morphine, which is one of the strongest pain medications available.
In conclusion, liver cancer is a rare type of cancer that has a low survival rate. So it is very important that those who suffer from alcoholism, type-two diabetes, hepatitis B or C, or obesity understand what the symptoms of the condition are. Some of the main ones to know about include jaundice, abdominal swelling, loss of appetite, weakness, white stools, delirium, and pain.
It is important to remember that although many people die from this condition, that does not mean that there aren't any treatment options available that can help. So those who develop any of these symptoms should be sure to talk to their doctor about surgical methods that can be done to remove a cancerous tumor, liver transplant options, and the use of a radio frequency ablation probe to destroy some of the liver cancer cells.
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