Liver cancer is a life-threatening disease, which must be diagnosed immediately to avoid any further complications and for a better prognosis. Keep an eye out for these liver cancer symptoms.
Liver cancer is a condition where the liver cells behave abnormally and become cancerous. These cancerous cells multiply and deteriorate the liver gradually. The cancer cells destroy the adjacent healthy tissues and spread to other organs outside the liver in later stages. There are a few different types of liver cancer, such as:
- Hepatocellular carcinoma is a condition where malignant or cancerous cells grow inside the normal cells (hepatocyte) of the liver.
- Cholangiocarcinoma is a condition where the cancerous cells have multiplied in the liver ducts.
- Metastatic liver cancer is a condition where cancer from other inflected organs has spread to the liver through the bloodstream. In general, the cancers that spread to the liver are from the colon, breast, pancreas, bladder, kidney, ovary, uterus, and lungs. These metastatic cancers are named after the organ that it started to grow from.
Certain bodily changes signal that something is wrong with the system. However, liver cancer symptoms do not generally manifest in the early stages of the disease, which makes early detection of the condition difficult. Most liver cancer symptoms are reported only when the disease has advanced. Liver cancer symptoms vary from one person to another depending upon the severity of their condition. These are some of the liver cancer symptoms that are commonly found.
- Loss of appetite
Early liver cancer symptoms indicate a feeling of fullness even after having a small meal. This results in significant loss of appetite.
- Unexplained weight loss
There is a considerable amount of involuntary weight loss that takes place during the progression of liver cancer. Weight loss that is disconnected with the diet that the patient follows is one of the prominent liver cancer symptoms that can be recognized in the initial stages of the disease. Weight loss can also be connected to the loss of appetite that the patient suffers during this disease.
Liver cancer symptoms such as a feeling of tiredness and fatigue are commonly reported by patients. The patient experiences a generic feeling of weakness and tiredness in doing day to day chores.
- Unexplained pain in the abdomen
Pain in the abdominal area is one of the significant liver cancer symptoms. Generally, the patient experiences excessive pain in the back or the right shoulder blade area, and the top right side of the abdominal area.
One of the most common and telling liver cancer symptoms is the onset of jaundice. Jaundice is primarily caused when the liver is not functioning normally. It results in the yellowing of the eyes and skin that is caused by increased levels of bilirubin in the blood, which is also termed as hyperbilirubinemia.
- Enlargement of the liver
This condition is also known as hepatomegaly, where the liver gets enlarged. The patient generally feels a large mass below the right side of the ribcage. This is one of the liver cancer symptoms that develops after the disease has progressively begun damaging other healthy liver cells.
- Abdominal swelling
Abdominal swelling is one of the liver cancer symptoms that result from the generalized enlargement of the liver itself or due to a condition termed as ascites that occurs due to excessive build up fluid in the abdominal area. This fluid is built up as a result of liver congestion which causes the blood vessels inside the liver to get pressed forcing the blood to return back to the veins instead of flowing out. The pressure in the veins forces the fluid to leak through the veins into the abdomen, which leads to ascites.
- Enlargement of the spleen
Enlarged spleen is a condition arising out of other underlying diseases such as inflammatory conditions, trauma, infections, and disorders in the bloodstream, liver diseases, and malignancy (cancer). Liver cancer symptoms related to the enlargement of the spleen include the presence of a large mass under the left side of the ribcage.
It is evident that most of the liver cancer symptoms are vague, and may easily have been caused due to conditions other than liver cancer. However, it is important to understand that successful treatment is only achieved when the disease is caught at an early stage. So if you see any of these worrying liver cancer symptoms, it is imperative to see a specialist as soon as possible in order to get timely treatment for liver cancer.