The exact reason why you might get liver cancer is unknown.
Chronic liver disease is often associated with primary liver cancer (cancer that starts in the liver). Scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) increases the risk of liver cancer.
Cirrhosis can be caused by:
- Heavy drinking.
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
- Hepatitis C.
- Hepatitis B.
- Hemochromatosis (a genetic condition where the body stores too much iron from the food).
- Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC; is a rare and poorly understood liver condition).
Thus, if you have a chronic liver disease with cirrhosis, your risk of liver cancer is doubled. However, it is not necessary that cirrhosis will eventually lead to liver cancer, and people without cirrhosis may also develop liver cancer.
Other risk factors for liver cancer
Other factors that may increase the risk of liver cancer include:
- Male gender
- Age >55 years
- High-risk ethnic backgrounds such as Asian or Hispanic
- Long-term anabolic steroid use
- History of diabetes
- Inherited metabolic disease
- High cholesterol and high triglycerides levels
- Exposure to aflatoxins
People with certain hereditary and/or rare diseases may be prone to developing liver disease, which includes:
- Wilson Disease
- Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
- Glycogen storage disease
- Advanced PBC
- Porphyria cutanea tarda
What is liver cancer?
Liver cancer, also known as hepatic cancer, is a type of cancer that starts in the liver. Different types of liver cancer are as follows:
- Primary liver cancer: This cancer starts in the liver. Primary liver cancer is of different types:
- Hepatocellular carcinoma (the common form of liver cancer)
- Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer)
- Angiosarcoma and hemangiosarcoma (cancer that begins in the cell lining of the blood vessels in the liver)
- Hepatoblastoma (cancer occurring in infants)
- Metastatic liver cancer (secondary liver cancer): It is cancer originating in other parts of the body that has spread to the liver.
- Benign liver tumors: Noncancerous tumors may grow large enough to cause problems, but they do not spread into the nearby tissues.
What are the treatment options for liver cancer?
Treatment options depend on the stage and type of liver cancer. The most common treatment options include:
- Surgery: This option may be useful in removing part of the liver affected by cancer. Complications of surgery include bleeding, infection, or pneumonia.
- Liver transplant: This involves replacing the cancerous cells with the healthy liver cells from a donor. Rejection of the liver transplant is the major complication of this method.
- Ablation therapy: This procedure involves using heat or laser to destroy the cancerous cells.
- Embolization: In this technique, a doctor uses a catheter to inject particles or beads into your blood vessels supplying the cancer cells to block them. This kills the cancerous cells.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation of high frequency destroys the cancerous cells.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses medications to kill cancerous cells.
How can you reduce your risk of liver cancer?
You can reduce the risk of liver cancer by following these methods:
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Get vaccinations to prevent hepatitis B
- Don’t engage in unprotected sex
- Consult a safe shop for tattoo piercing
- Ensure sterilized needles are used for blood transfusion
- Chinese Company May Help Ease U.S. Shortage of Cancer Drug
- Opdivo Could Boost Outcomes for People Battling Hodgkin Lymphoma
- More U.S. Kids, Teens Are Getting Weight-Loss Surgeries
- Could a Nitroglycerin Patch Ease Hot Flashes?
- One Form of Menopause Hormone Therapy Might Raise Blood Pressure
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top How Do You Get Liver Cancer? Related Articles
Can Liver Cancer Be Detected by a Blood Test?Liver cancer is not detected by blood tests alone. Certain substances present in the blood called the blood markers may be elevated in patients with liver cancer. Raised levels of a tumor marker called alpha fetoprotein (AFP) can indicate diseases of the liver, including liver cancer.
How Is Liver Cancer Usually Diagnosed?The liver is the second largest organ (the first being the skin) in the human body. One blood test used to help diagnose liver cancer is the tumor marker alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), but it is not specific to liver cancer.
CancerCancer is a disease caused by an abnormal growth of cells, also called malignancy. It is a group of 100 different diseases, and is not contagious. Cancer can be treated through chemotherapy, a treatment of drugs that destroy cancer cells.
Top Cancer-Fighting FoodsExperts have praised certain foods for their ability to reduce cancer risks. Learn which foods and eating strategies may help reduce your risk of developing cancer.
Cancer QuizTake this quiz to learn the causes of cancer. Get the facts about the causes, symptoms, and treatments for the world's most common cancers.
Does Liver Cancer Spread Quickly?Liver cancer can spread quickly depending on the type of cancer. Hemangiosarcoma and angiosarcoma types of liver cancer are fast spreading, whereas hepatocellular carcinoma spreads late in the disease.
Nonalcoholic and Alcoholic Fatty Liver DiseaseYou can treat fatty liver disease with diet and exercise. Learn the signs and symptoms of fatty liver disease, whether it is alcoholic or nonalcoholic in origin. Find out what causes fatty liver disease, along with remedies and prevention tips.
14 Best and Worst Foods for Your LiverGet some simple diet tips to keep your liver healthy, including the best veggies to keep disease away and some snacks you'll want to avoid.
Liver Damage CausesAlcohol and acetaminophen are well-known liver dangers, but what else can be harmful? WebMD says some of them may surprise you.
How Long Can You Live With Liver Cancer?The overall survival rate of liver cancer patients is low, due to other underlying medical conditions, such as cirrhosis. Generally, a five-year survival rate for all stages of liver cancer is only 15%, but it can vary depending on the extent of cancer spread.
Liver CancerLiver cancer is cancer of the liver cells (hepatocellular carcinoma) or of the ducts in the liver (cholangiocarcinoma). Liver cancer often arises due to liver damage, cirrhosis (scarring) caused by alcohol use/abuse, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C. Liver cancer may not cause any symptoms. Liver cancer is diagnosed with blood tests, imaging tests, and a liver biopsy. Treatment for liver cancer may include surgery, ablation, embolization, radiation, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy.
Pain From Liver CancerPatients suffering from liver cancer usually complain of a throbbing or stabbing sensation in the upper right side of the abdomen or the back of the shoulder. There may or may not be a swelling that doesn’t subside. The pain may be severe; it is graded 7/10 in intensity. Some patients may not have any symptoms in the early stages of liver cancer.
What Are Signs That Your Liver Is Not Functioning Properly?Liver pain can be a sign that you have a serious health problem like cirrhosis or liver cancer. Find out more about what could be causing your liver pain and how to treat it. Patients may have worsening symptoms of chronic liver disease or cirrhosis, which often precedes the development of cancer of the liver.
What Does it Mean If You Have Urobilinogen in Your Urine?Urobilinogen is a substance that is produced when bilirubin, a waste product produced by the breakdown of red blood cells, is processed in the liver and released into the intestine. Excess urobilinogen in urine may indicate liver diseases, such as viral hepatitis, cirrhosis, or liver damage. It is caused by drugs, toxic substances, or conditions associated with increased red blood cell destruction (hemolytic anemia). In a person with low urine urobilinogen and/or signs of liver dysfunction, it can be indicative of hepatic or biliary obstruction.
What Does Pain From Liver Cancer Feel Like?Liver cancer may not cause any signs or symptoms in its initial stages. When the cancer begins to show its signs and symptoms, you may feel pain in the abdomen, particularly at the top right.