How is the liver affected by various diseases and by what factors do we get liver cancer? How harmful is this condition to our health and how can it be prevented? What are the warning signs and symptoms?
With the help of the bile it produces, the liver digests fats and removes bilirubins (hemoglobin waste); It is also involved in the storage of carbohydrates and contributes to the elimination of toxins and the release of some drugs.
Description of the disease
Liver cancer is a malignant tumor (cancerous) that originates from liver tissue. In the liver, there are also cancers that have spread to the liver from other places. Liver cancer usually occurs in connection with an underlying disease in the liver such as cirrhosis of the liver. This cancer occurs in both sexes, but it is more common in men
What are the symptoms of liver cancer?
Most people do not have any symptoms in the early stages of liver cancer. Signs and symptoms of liver cancer include the following:
– nausea and vomiting
Unexplained weight loss
– Loss of appetite
– Upper abdominal pain
– General weakness and fatigue
– Abdominal swelling
– Change in skin color
Yellowing of the eyes
– Stool color change to white
Causes of liver cancer
Existing cirrhosis in the liver. About 50% of patients with liver cancer have already had cirrhosis.
Hepatitis B or C infection
Possible infection with slow viruses
Diagnosis of liver cancer
Screening using ultrasound and sometimes an alpha protein blood test at 6 to 12 month intervals is recommended for people who are at high risk of developing liver cancer. These people include patients with cirrhosis who have been infected with hepatitis B or C virus. This helps detect cancer at an early stage and increases the likelihood of successful liver cancer treatment.
If it is suspected that you have liver cancer, several tests will be performed on you. These tests are performed for the following reasons:
They confirm that you have liver cancer. They also confirm whether your type of cancer is primary liver cancer or secondary liver cancer.
They evaluate the level of cancer. In other words, they determine how much of the liver is affected and whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
They evaluate your liver function and general health.
Therefore, a range of tests are generally needed in relation to liver cancer. These tests are as follows:
Imaging diagnostic tests: such as CT scan or MRI. These tests show the exact location and extent of the cancer.
Liver biopsy: This test is generally performed to diagnose the type of cancer. Tissue sampling means taking a small sample of tissue from a part of the body. The body is then examined under a microscope to identify abnormal cells.
Blood tests help evaluate your liver function and general health.
If the above tests do not detect the cancer well, other tests are performed. For example, laparoscopy is sometimes performed. Laparoscopy is a small procedure to look inside the abdomen with a flexible camera.
How is liver cancer treated?
Liver cancer treatment depends on the stage of the disease. If diagnosed early, the probability of treatment success increases.
Treatment methods include the following:
– Surgery to remove the cancerous part of the liver
– Liver transplant surgery
– Freezing cancer cells
– heating cancer cells
– Injection of alcohol into the cancerous tumor
– Injection of chemotherapy drugs into the liver
– Radiotherapy or radiation therapy
– Drug therapy
Currently, only one out of every 10 patients with liver cancer is diagnosed in the early stages.
Prevention of liver cancer
Liver cirrhosis causes scarring of the liver and increases the risk of liver cancer. You can reduce the risk of contracting this disease by taking the following steps:
Maintaining a healthy weight: If you have a healthy weight, maintain it by choosing a healthy diet and exercising regularly. If you need to lose weight, reduce the number of calories you consume each day and increase the amount of exercise you do. Try to lose weight between 0.5 and 1 kg per week.
Be careful when using chemicals: When using chemicals at home or at work, follow the instructions on them.
You can reduce the risk of hepatitis B by getting the hepatitis B vaccine. This vaccine protects more than 90% of adults and children. Almost anyone can receive the vaccine, even children, the elderly, and people with a damaged immune system.
There is no vaccine for hepatitis C, but you can reduce your risk by following these steps:
Be aware of your partner’s health.
Use a clean needle if injecting drugs into a vein.
When you want to get a tattoo or ear piercing and the like, go to clean shops to get the necessary materials.
Diagnosing liver cancer in the early stages helps in its successful treatment, for this reason, if you have the risk factors mentioned in the article, see a doctor so that you can prevent the development of cancer with timely diagnosis.
For mild discomfort, drugs such as acetaminophen can be used. If needed, stronger painkillers will be prescribed.
Anticancer drugs have not given good results so far.
Activity during the disease
Stay active as much as you can.
No special diet is recommended. Do not drink alcohol.
Under what circumstances should you see a doctor?
If you or a member of your family have symptoms of liver cancer.
If symptoms of bleeding appear, especially bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract. These symptoms include vomiting blood or vomiting that contains a black substance that looks like coffee beans, blood in the stool, or black, tarry stools.