Living Beyond Liver Cancer

The liver is the second most important organ in your body and performs many jobs. It processes what you eat and drink into energy and nutrients your body can use. The liver also removes harmful substances from your blood.

Cancer that starts in the liver is called primary liver cancer. About 21,000 Americans are diagnosed with primary liver cancer each year. Men are twice as likely to get liver cancer than women.

What Causes Liver Cancer?

There are several risk factors for liver cancer:

  • Cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) can lead to liver cancer. In the United States, chronic alcoholism and hepatitis C are the leading causes of cirrhosis.
  • Long-term hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections are linked to liver cancer because they often lead to cirrhosis. Hepatitis B can lead to liver cancer without cirrhosis.
  • Obesity may increase the risk of liver cancer.
  • Diabetes can increase the risk of liver cancer, especially in those who drink heavily or have viral hepatitis.

Signs and Symptoms of Liver Cancer?

Often there are no symptoms of liver cancer until the disease is in an advanced stage. When symptoms do occur, they may include fatigue, bloating, pain on the right side of the upper abdomen or back and shoulder, nausea, loss of appetite, feelings of fullness, weight loss, weakness, fever and jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin).

If you have signs of possible liver cancer, we will perform a physical examination and/or recommend imaging tests. To confirm a diagnosis of liver cancer, blood tests, ultrasound tests, computer tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and/or an angiogram may be used. A liver biopsy may be performed, during which a small piece of liver tissue will be removed and studied in the lab.

How We Treat Liver Cancer

At Denton Digestive Care, we take a comprehensive approach to treating liver cancer based on your liver’s condition, your age and overall health, the specifics of the tumor(s) and if the cancer has spread outside the liver.

If the cancer has been found early and the rest of the liver is healthy, we may refer you to a surgeon to remove the tumor from the liver. If the cancer has not spread, for some patients a liver transplant (replacement of the liver) may be an option. We offer liver transplant management beginning with education through surgery and post-operative care. Other treatment options if surgery and transplant are not possible include radiofrequency (heat) ablation, cryosurgery to freeze and destroy the cancer cells, chemotherapy (drug therapy) and/or radiation therapy (high-energy X-rays).

Our staff will fully discuss your treatment options with you and recommend a course of action that’s right for you.