Liver cancer

A cancerous tumour in the liver. The tumour may be primary (originating within the liver) or secondary (having spread from elsewhere, often the stomach, pancreas, or large intestine). There are 2 main types of primary tumour: a hepatoma, which develops in the liver cells, and a cholangiocarcinoma, which arises from cells lining the bile ducts. The most common symptoms of any liver cancer are loss of appetite, weight loss, lethargy, and sometimes pain in the upper right abdomen. The later stages of the disease are marked by jaundice and ascites (excess fluid in the abdomen). Tumours are often detected by ultrasound scanning, and diagnosis may be confirmed by liver biopsy. A hepatoma can sometimes be cured by complete removal. In other cases, anticancer drugs can help to slow the progress of the disease. It is usually not possible to cure secondary liver cancer, but anticancer drugs or, in some cases, removal of a solitary metastasis may be advised.


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