Symptoms of liver cancer

Whatever the cause of liver cancer, research points out that the symptoms of liver cancer are visible only in the advanced stage. Liver cancer is either primary in nature (caused by tumor development in liver cells) or secondary (cancer spreading from other tissues).

Hepatocellular liver cancer constitutes 85% of all liver cancers. Cholangiacarcinoma starts from the bile duct, angiosacrcoma from liver blood vessels and hepatoblastoma is a rare form of cancer seen only in children. Stage four liver cancers occur when cancer has spread to other tissues.

However, delays in treatment (which is fatal) can be prevented by early recognition of some of the signs and symptoms mentioned below.

1. Bilirubin accumulation which leads to development of jaundice characterized by yellow skin and whites in eyes.

2. Lack of bile and digestive enzymes that causes nausea and vomiting.

3. Loss of appetite and unintended weight loss due to an inability to process food.

4. Large liver cancer tumors cause pressure and pain in upper right abdomen, ribs and back.

5. The abdomen of liver cancer patients swells to the shape and size of a pregnant woman's belly - a condition called Ascites. Ascites is observed only when the tumor is very large.

6. Significant liver damage during the advancement of liver cancer is characterized by muscle weakness and overall fatigue.

7. Tenderness of skin at region of liver during a physical examination is indicative of liver cancer. 

8. Cancer can also be detected using a stethoscope to hear distinct sounds from the liver specific to cancer. The sounds correlate to abnormality in the flow of blood.

9. Stage-four liver cancer is marked by unexplained weight loss (about 10% of the body weight when not trying to lose weight by any means or dieting), difficulty in eating or feeling hungry.

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