Liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma)

The liver functions to remove toxins and excess weight from the blood. This makes it accessible to cancer cells in the blood. The liver can develop primary liver cancer, which arises in the liver itself or metastatic liver cancer that arises in other parts of the body and then spreads to the liver. When the cells in the liver become abnormal in terms of appearance and behavior, primary liver cancer is caused. Primary liver cancer is commonly caused by hepatitis. It occurs at a rate of two times more in men than women, mostly at 67 years of age.

Year/period Key developments
19th century First recorded attempts of liver surgery.
1960s ●       Hepatitis B was found to be a prime cause of liver cancer.

●        First liver transplant performed.

1980s Development of Tumor ablation
1990s Liver transplantation becomes a standard treatment for certain patients with liver cancer
2000s ●       The introduction of sorafenib which was considered a landmark in the field of liver cancer research and treatments.

●       Obesity is linked to liver cancer deaths.

Recent years Liver cancer resulted in 754,000 deaths, up from 460,000 in 1990, making it the third leading cause of cancer death after lung and stomach. Current treatment options for liver cancer include: surgery, tumor ablation, tumor embolization, radiation therapy, targeted therapy and chemotherapy.

Liver Cancer


Liver Cancer Causes

  • Cirrhosis: Long term damage of the liver.
  • Defects from the time of birth.
  • Alcohol intake in excess.
  • Chronic infection caused by Hepatitis B and C.
  • Hemochromatosis: A hereditary disease which is caused as a result of excess iron in the liver.
  • Improper diet.
  • Environmental factors.
  • Use of anabolic steroid.
  • Having a history of diabetes.
  • Inherited metabolic diseases.
  • Studies have found a link between liver cancer and some rare diseases like alpha -1-antitrypsin deficiency , tyrosinemia, and Wilson’s disease.
  • Men are at a higher risk than women.
  • Obesity increase risk for liver cancer.
  • Liver cancer is more common among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.


Symptoms of Liver Cancer

  • Pain in the upper abdominal area.
  • Swelling in the abdomen.
  • Weight loss.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Excretion of stools that are white and chalky.



Liver Cancer Diagnosis

  • Blood tests: Dcotors recommend a blood test to look for an increase in the level of AFP (Alfa-Fetoprotein), which is a sign of liver cancer. Lab tests also include des-gamma-carboxy prothrombin, which increases in patients who are suspected to have liver cancer.
  • Imaging tests: CT scan and MRI of the liver are recommended to look for the location, as well as the supply of blood to the liver.
  • Liver biopsy: Doctors recommend liver biopsy, which involves extracting tissue from the liver which is then observed by pathologists.



  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy involves the administration of cancer killing cells through the mouth, injecting into the vein or artery.

Liver Cancer - Radiation Therapy Liver Cancer Chemotherapy

  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy involves killing the cancer cells with the use of high-energy rays.

Liver Cancer - Radiation Therapy

  • Ablation therapy: This therapy involves the killing of the cancer cells with the use of laser, heat or injection of acid or special alcohol into the cancer directly.

Liver Cancer - Ablation Therapy

  • Liver Cancer Chemotherapy


  • Embolization: This process involves blocking the supply of blood to the cancer cells by injecting particles or using catheter to block the blood vessel which ultimately causes the cancer cells to starve.

Liver Cancer Embolization

  • Liver transplant: This involves replacing the diseases liver of the patient with a healthy liver from a donor.

Liver Cancer - Liver Transplant

  • Targeted agent: Patients are administered a drug called Sorafenib, an oral medicine that increases survival rate up to 3 months.

Risks involved after surgery:

Liver Cancer Surgery Risk

  • Chemotherapy includes many short-term side effects like fatigue, loss of hair, vomiting, nausea, swelling in legs, susceptible to bruising and sores in mouth.
  • The risks of radiation therapy include fatigue, nausea, vomiting and irritation near the site of the treatment.
  • The complications of Embolization include: nausea, vomiting, fever and pain in the abdomen.
  • Liver transplant includes risks like rejection of the new liver, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, diabetes, infection caused by suppression of the immune system, weakening of the kidneys and bones and increase in the number of hair on the body.
  • Complications of Soranefib include high blood pressure, hand and feet sores, fatigue, decreased appetite and rash on skin.


Liver Cancer Prognosis

Prognosis of liver cancer depends on the size of the tumor, the area it has spread to, the number of lesions, the health of the surrounding liver tissue and the overall health of the patient.

The American Cancer Society states the overall 5-year survival rate for all stages of liver cancer is 15%. If the liver cancer is confined to the liver, the 5-year survival rate is 28%. If the liver cancer is has grown into nearby organs, the 5-year survival rate is 7%. If the cancer spreads to distant organs or tissues, the survival time is as low as 2 years. When caught in the earliest stages, and the liver is transplanted, the 5-year survival rate can be as high as 70%.


Liver Cancer Cost

Surgery on the liver can cost $60,000 but costs can increase to $100,000. Stereotactic radiosurgery, a targeted radiation treatment sometimes used for liver cancer, typically costs $12,000-$55,000.

Liver Cancer New Life Healthcare



New Life Clinics offers a low-risk way to treat liver cancer. Our team of experienced and skilled doctors make life at hospital a painless one and guarantee a speedy recovery.