Home Health Liver Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Diagnosis

Liver Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Diagnosis

by Lois Earles

There are many kinds of diseases that may affect your liver. These diseases can be caused by infections, your lifestyle, or inherited conditions. If overlooked, these conditions can lead to serious consequences such as permanent liver damage or liver failure. 

In fact, even some medicines, such as the once-popular Zantac, have been found to cause liver cancer. If you have been diagnosed with liver cancer after using Zantac, you may be eligible for a personal injury compensation.

The liver is the second largest organ in your body after the skin. It is situated under the ribcage on the right side of your body. The liver acts as a filter that separates the wastes from the nutrients as food passes down to the digestive system.

Liver is an extremely important organ in the body. Liver cancer is highly fatal. According to a study, only 50%-70% of people diagnosed with liver cancer survive 5 years

Understanding liver cancer better can help us avoid its dangers. Let’s jump right in:

Causes of types of liver diseases

  • Cancer
  • Autoimmune liver diseases 
  • Viral Infections
  • Inherited liver diseases
  • Consuming toxins
  • Consuming fat

Liver Cancer

There are cells in your body, but when abnormal cells in your body start to multiply, they lead to tumors. Tumors can be non-cancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant).

Liver cancer can be classified as primary liver cancer and secondary liver cancer.

Primary liver cancer begins in the cells of the liver, whereas secondary liver cancer is when cancerous cells spread in the liver and metastasize.

Symptoms of liver cancer may include:

  1. Chronic Fatigue
  2. Nausea
  3. Vomiting
  4. Loss of appetite
  5. Feeling full unusually after a meal
  6. Bruising easily
  7. Weakness
  8. Fever 
  9. Unexplained weight loss
  10. Abdominal Pain and discomfort
  11. Jaundice
  12. Pale stool and dark urine

However, these symptoms match any of the symptoms that might be caused due to any liver disease. It is important to get diagnosed by a doctor after further investigation. 

Causes of Liver cancer and risk factors for liver cancer

  • Age: People who are old in age are at higher risk of having liver cancer. Liver cancer is more common in older people than in young people. 
  • Use of certain medications: Medications like Zantac can be also the cause of liver cancer. Zantac is Ranitidine that was used for heartburn and acid reflux ailment, but in the recent discovery, it was found that the medication consisted of NDMA, a carcinogenic chemical capable of causing liver cancer, bladder cancer, bile duct cancer, liver failure, and other kinds of liver diseases and cancers. This malpractice has led to a Multi-District Litigation because thousands of complaints have been filed against Zantac. Law firms have been helping the victims of Zantac-led cancer patients file complaints against the manufacturers and retailers of Zantac.
  • Exposure to Aflatoxin: Aflatoxin is a toxic compound found in the molds of certain food grains, peanuts, grains, and corn. Exposure to Aflatoxin in any form can become a high-risk factor for liver cancer.
  • Consumption of alcohol: Consumption of alcohol or alcohol abuse can lead to certain liver conditions such as liver cancer, and liver failure. Alcohol consumption causes liver scarring, which can result in cancer.
  • Smoking: Heavy smokers are also at high risk of developing cancer. 

How is Liver cancer diagnosed?

The symptoms of liver cancer can match any other symptom of liver disease. So it is necessary for an individual to first go to the doctor for consultation and get himself tested. Your doctor may begin by asking about your medical history, your lifestyle, and the history of cancer in your family, and conduct a physical exam. Your doctor may ask for further investigations such as:

  • LFT or Liver Functioning Test: This test helps in determining the health condition of your liver. It helps to know the level of protein, enzymes, and bilirubin in your blood.
  • AFT or Alfa fetoprotein Test: Alfa-fetoprotein is usually formed in the liver and yolk sac of a developing fetus. This protein stops developing after birth. So if this test results positive, it could be a sign of liver cancer.
  • Imaging Test: Tests such as CT scans, ultrasounds, and MRIs can help you detect the presence of any tumor present in your body. It helps your doctor assess the position of the cancer, how much it has spread, and its size.
  • Liver Biopsy: A liver biopsy is removing a small piece of liver tissue to study and examine the presence of cancer. Liver biopsy can be of three types:
  1. Needle biopsy: where a thin needle is inserted through your abdomen to remove a small piece of tissue from, your liver.
  2. Laparoscopic biopsy: is conducted by using a laparoscope, that is, a thin tube attached to a camera. This procedure shows the insides of your liver and helps in determining the state of the liver.
  3. Laparotomy: is a surgical biopsy where the doctor performs surgery to see the insides of your abdomen and determine whether or not cancer is there, and if there is, then the situation of cancer and may also remove a part of it to examine it.
  • Liver cancer screening: Liver cancer doesn’t show its noticeable symptoms in the early stages. Therefore, liver cancer screening may help you detect cancer in the early stages of cancer.


There are different kinds of treatment available for liver cancer, but there are certain factors that determine your best option to seek treatment. These factors are:

  • The size, location, and number of tumors present in the liver
  • The functioning of your liver
  • Presence of Cirrhosis
  • Spread of cancer to other organs or not

Treatment for liver cancer may include the following options:

  • Partial Hepatectomy: includes removal of a portion of the liver. Gradually the remaining tissues grow healthy liver.
  • Liver transplant: In case the liver cant be restored, your doctor may offer you the option of liver transplant.
  • Ablation: This is the usage of heating, and cooling processor ethanol injections to destroy the cancerous cells.
  • Radiation therapy: Uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy: Is a drug therapy. The drugs are administered under the supervision of a doctor.
  • Targeted therapy: Involves reducing the growth of the tumor by restricting the blood supply.
  • Immunotherapy: Refers to the process of improving the immunity of the patient. This helps the body recognize the cancerous cells and destroy them.
  • Embolization, chemoembolization, and radioembolization: cutting off or reducing the blood supply to the tumor and injecting the chemo drugs, or both.


In order to lead a healthy lifestyle, it is important to get your regular checkups done to detect any health conditions such as liver cancer at early stages when treatment could be successful.

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