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Understanding Liver Cancer Signs & Symptoms and Treatment Options

Liver cancer, though less common than other forms of cancer, can be a serious and life-threatening condition if not detected and treated early. Understanding the signs and symptoms of liver cancer is crucial for early diagnosis and effective management. In this guide, we will delve into the various aspects of liver cancer signs and symptoms, empowering readers to recognize potential warning signs and seek timely medical intervention.

What is Liver Cancer?

The abnormal growth of cells in the liver is referred to as liver cancer, also called hepatic cancer. Various forms of liver cancer exist, with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) being the prevailing type. Other types include intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma and hepatoblastoma, which primarily affect different cell types within the liver.

Signs and Symptoms of Liver Cancer

Abdominal Pain: Persistent pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen, often near the liver area, may indicate liver cancer. This pain may be dull, achy, or sharp and may worsen over time.

Jaundice: Yellowing of the skin and eyes, known as jaundice, occurs when the liver is unable to process bilirubin effectively. Liver cancer can obstruct bile ducts, leading to jaundice as bilirubin accumulates in the body.

Unexplained Weight Loss: Sudden and unexplained weight loss, without changes in diet or physical activity, may be a symptom of liver cancer. Cancer cells can disrupt the body’s metabolism, leading to unintended weight loss.

Loss of Appetite: Liver cancer can affect appetite and lead to a loss of interest in food. This can result in reduced caloric intake and contribute to weight loss and malnutrition.

Fatigue and Weakness: Persistent fatigue and weakness, even after adequate rest, may be indicative of liver cancer. Cancer-related fatigue can significantly impact daily activities and quality of life.

Enlarged Liver or Abdominal Lump: As liver cancer progresses, the liver may become enlarged, leading to a feeling of fullness or discomfort in the abdomen. In some cases, a palpable abdominal lump may be detected during physical examination.

Nausea and Vomiting: Nausea and vomiting, particularly in the absence of other gastrointestinal symptoms, may signal liver cancer. These symptoms may worsen as the cancer advances and affects liver function.

Possible Causes of Liver Cancer

Chronic Hepatitis B or C Infection: Chronic infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) increases the risk of developing liver cancer. These viruses can cause inflammation and damage to liver cells over time, leading to the formation of cancerous tumours.

Cirrhosis: Cirrhosis, a progressive scarring of the liver tissue, is a significant risk factor for liver cancer. Chronic alcohol abuse, viral hepatitis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and other liver conditions can lead to cirrhosis, increasing the likelihood of cancer development.

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) and Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH): NAFLD and its more severe form, NASH, are characterized by the accumulation of fat in the liver. These conditions are associated with obesity, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome, all of which elevate the risk of liver cancer.

Alcohol Consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption over a prolonged period can damage liver cells and promote the development of liver cancer. Alcohol-related liver cirrhosis significantly increases the risk of cancerous transformation.

Exposure to Aflatoxins: Aflatoxins are toxic substances produced by certain moulds that can contaminate food, particularly grains, nuts, and legumes. Prolonged exposure to aflatoxins increases the risk of liver cancer, especially in regions where food contamination is prevalent.

Genetic Factors: Inherited genetic conditions, such as hemochromatosis, Wilson’s disease, and alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, can predispose individuals to liver cancer. These conditions affect liver function and increase susceptibility to cancerous changes.

Treatment Options for Liver Cancer

Dr. Gopal Sharma is a distinguished oncologist renowned for his expertise in providing compassionate care and advanced treatment options for patients battling liver cancer. With a commitment to excellence and a patient-centric approach, Dr. Sharma combines his extensive experience and knowledge to deliver personalized care tailored to each individual’s needs. His multidisciplinary approach to liver cancer treatment encompasses state-of-the-art surgical techniques, innovative therapies, and a comprehensive support network aimed at optimizing outcomes and improving quality of life.

Surgery: Surgical resection, or removal of the tumour, may be an option for early-stage liver cancer.

Liver Transplantation: For eligible patients with early-stage liver cancer and cirrhosis, liver transplantation may offer a curative treatment option.

Ablation Therapy: Ablation techniques, such as radiofrequency ablation (RFA) and microwave ablation (MWA), use heat or cold to destroy cancerous tissue in the liver. These minimally invasive procedures may be recommended for small tumours or as palliative treatment to alleviate symptoms.

Transarterial Chemoembolization (TACE): TACE involves delivering chemotherapy drugs directly into the blood vessels feeding the tumour, followed by the embolization of these vessels to cut off the tumour’s blood supply. Dr. Gopal Sharma utilizes TACE as part of a comprehensive treatment approach for liver cancer patients.

Targeted Therapy and Immunotherapy: Targeted therapy drugs and immunotherapy agents target specific molecular pathways or stimulate the immune system to fight cancer cells. Dr Gopal Sharma stays abreast of the latest advancements in these treatment modalities and incorporates them into individualized treatment plans for his patients.

Palliative Care: In advanced stages of liver cancer, palliative care focuses on symptom management, pain relief, and improving quality of life.

In the Summmary


Liver cancer can arise from various causes, including viral infections, liver cirrhosis, environmental factors, and genetic predisposition. Early detection and prompt intervention are crucial for improving outcomes and prolonging survival. Treatment options for liver cancer range from surgical interventions and liver transplantation to minimally invasive procedures and targeted therapies. Dr. Gopal Sharma, a leading oncologist, offers comprehensive care and expertise in the management of liver cancer, striving to achieve the best possible outcomes for his patients.

You might feel pain in your stomach, lose weight without trying, or your skin and eyes might turn yellow.

Doctors check your blood, take pictures of your liver, and sometimes take a small piece to look at under a microscope.

You might get surgery to remove the bad parts, medicine, or special treatments to kill the bad cells.

You can try to stay healthy by not drinking too much alcohol, getting vaccines, and staying away from bad stuff that can hurt your liver.

If doctors find it early and treat it, you can get better. But if it's late, it might be harder to fix.

Dr. Gopal Sharma treats a variety of cancers including breast cancer, hematology cancers, musculoskeletal oncology, head & neck oncology, gastrointestinal & hepatobiliary oncology, uro-oncology, thoracic oncology, and gynecologic oncology.

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