Another name for liver cancer is hepatocellular cancer (HCC) which originates from the hepatocytes (liver cells). HCC happens when the liver becomes harshly injured because of continuous intake of chemicals or being sick for a long time. When the liver hardens and shrinks, and develops a condition called liver cirrhosis.
There is another type of cancer which the liver can develop, the metastatic or secondary cancer. As the name suggests, the liver contracts the disease thru secondary deposits when the main cancer develops in another part of the body.
What are the Chances of Developing Liver Cancer
Asians are very much prone to liver cancer, especially within the South East Asian countries such as Singapore. The reason for this is the large incidence of recurring hepatitis B and C infection among the populace. Liver cancer is ranked as the number four most prevalent form of liver cancer in Singapore. Chinese males are more likely to contract it than their female populace.
What Causes Liver Cancer
Causative elements for HCC are the same for liver cirrhosis:
- Recurring Hepatitis B and C infection
- Too much intake of alcoholic beverages
- Ingestion of a toxic substance created by molds in some crops such as peanuts, corn, etc. , also know as aflatoxin
- Carcinogenic substances and chemicals like nitrites, hydrocarbons, solvents, vinyl chloride
- Hereditary diseases which can lead to liver cirrhosis like having excess iron deposits in other organs of the body (haemachromatosis) and Wilson’s disease.
- These indications manifest only at the last stages of the disease:
- Some of the most obvious indicator is lack of appetite, weight loss and chronic fatigue.
- As the cancer grows, a swell may become apparent in the higher portion of the right stomach.
- Enlargement of the stomach.
- The skin and the white of the eyes turn yellow in color.
- A remarkable change in the general condition for persons having recurring hepatitis or cirrhosis.
How To Prevent the Liver Cancer
- Having hepatitis B virus Vaccination. Singapore is trying to reverse their current situation as regards to liver cancer by all its babies immunized against Hepatitis B virus.
- Stop excessive ingestion of carcinogenic substances, particularly alcohol.
- Minimize intake of red meat as well as fats from animals. Do not take peanuts and grains that already have moulds. The place for that is the garbage can, not your stomach.
- Have yourself regularly tested especially if you belong to the high possibility group.
A number of cures are now offered to patients of HCC. Some of these are:
Removal of one lobe the liver through surgery (hepatectomy). This is a major yet a simple surgery procedure which entail very little risk.
Chemotheraphy. Introduction of toxic drugs to destroy the cancer cells.
Radiation therapy. This is normally performed with chemotherapy when the HCC cannot be removed through surgery.
Modern cures: Cryosurgery where the diseased tissues are exposed to extreme cold to destroy it, ethanol injection, where ethanol (alcohol) is injected through the skin directly to the cancer cells to destroy it, or application of high energy waves to eradicate the cancer cells. One more procedure now used is the insertion of a plastic tube into the blood vessel carrying blood to the liver to introduce substances to eradicate the cancer or break its blood supply. Today this method is used to ease the pain caused by a Liver Cancer that cannot be treated.