Majority of HCC occurs with people who have risk factors. If you have more number of risk factors, the chances of getting liver cancer become higher. Any reason that may cause cirrhosis, inclusive of HCV, is considered a risk for liver cancer. Many primary liver cancers start with cirrhosis, yet most people with cirrhosis never get liver cancer.
Other risk factors include:
Signs and Symptoms
Liver cancer becomes life threatening mostly because the signs and symptoms surface very late.
Pain or discomfort in the upper side of the abdomen
Lump or heavy feeling in the right side of the abdomen
Screening with ultrasound is recommended every six months for HCV positive people
Everything that prevents cirrhosis or Hepatitis the risk of cancer in the liver too. Immunization is advised for Hepatitis A and B. Other ways to reduce HCC risk are to abstain from alcohol, maintain normal weight, quit smoking, avoid steroid use.
Assessing liver cancer
Once it is confirmed, HCC needs to be studied to know what stage it is in. Treatment is based on the stage. The size of the tumour is measured, the number of tumours, have they invaded blood vessels etc.
The four stages for adults are:
Treating liver cancer
A lot of treatment options are available. It includes chemotherapy, ablation, liver transplant, radiation, surgery, targeted therapy etc.
Ablation means to destroy the tissue or to remove it. Radiofrequency ablation is a common form and is done for small tumours when surgery or transplant is not a viable option.
Chemotherapy is not usually effective in HCC. Nevertheless, it is used in conjunction with other forms of treatment.
Embolization involves injecting substances so that blood flow to the cancer cells can be blocked. Chemoembolization is very commonly used for HCC.
Liver Transplant potentially can cure HCC, as the entire organ is removed. This is a better option for people with cirrhosis.
Radiation helps to shrink the tumour and reduce pain.
Surgical removal of tumour is done in case the size of the tumour is small and hasn’t spread.
Targeted therapy interferes with cell growth and targets cancer cell specifically.