Parts of the body that liver cancer affects.
Liver cancer affects the liver of the body by having cancer cells produced rapidly in it. Cancer can start in the liver or spread there from somewhere else in the body. Cancer that has started in the liver is called primary liver cancer. Cancer that has spread to the liver from somewhere else is called secondary liver cancer. Common cancers that can spread to the liver include bowel cancer, breast cancer and lung cancer.
Besides that, liver cancer may cause the swelling of abdomen due to the enlarged liver. Blood circulation may be blocked and obstruction of bile ducts occurs. The stomach and small intestine are pressed by the liver tumor and causes discomfort in the body. Swelling of the leg may occur due to the accumulation of the abdominal fluid. The blockage of lymphatic system may also cause by the liver cancer.
Symptoms of liver cancer.
Liver cancer does not usually cause any symptoms in the early stages. It does not cause any noticeable symptoms until it has reached an advanced stage. Due to the delayed onset of symptoms, liver cancer is often diagnosed in an advanced stage, prompting one to seek medical attention. People with liver cancer can experience a number of related effects.
The symptoms of liver cancer include:
· Pain or discomfort on the right side of abdomen.
A swollen abdomen (tummy) is caused by fluid collecting in the abdomen which is called ascites (abdominal fluid). The number of swellings can be a lot. These swellings may be caused by blockage of the blood circulation in the liver that results in the buildup of fluids and the liver may not be able to make the blood proteins normally to help to keep fluid in the bloodstream. Cancer cells in the liver may be irritating the lining of the abdomen which then makes fluid that makes the tummy swell. In other words, the cancer cells may block the body’s lymphatic system.
Swelling or inflammation can cause a person to experience mild to severe abdominal pain, especially in the upper right-hand side of the abdomen, which is the position of the liver in the body. Severe pain in the abdomen can be caused by the puncture of the tumor and causes bleeding in the abdomen. A lump can be felt within the upper abdomen caused by inflammation of the liver when the abdomen is pressed.
Jaundice occurs when bilirubin (A substance made in the liver to help with fat metabolism. It will then travels down the bile duct just before emptying into the duodenum) builds up in the blood. This is due to a large amount of liver is replaced by tumor or the obstruction of bile duct occurs. This causes a person to become noticeably yellow, or jaundiced.
Itching may occur when bilirubin builds up in the blood. It is cause by waste products collecting in the skin. It can only be stopped when jaundice is treated, or in other words, the bile duct is no longer blocked. Obstructed (blocked) bile ducts can increase the risk of infection, including sepsis (infection in the blood).
Some of the common symptoms jaundice in liver cancer is yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes. The yellowing is due to the bile duct being blocked by the cancer. Liver produces bile from waste products in the blood. If the bile duct is blocked, these waste products will then build up in the bloodstream. As bile is yellow in color, they make the skin and eyes yellow. This yellowing is called jaundice.
Another sign of jaundice include a change in stool color (stools become white and chalky) and urine color (dark colored urine).
· Enlarged liver.
Cancer cells grow and multiply rapidly within the liver tissue as liver cancer progress. If this phenomenon occurs, the liver may become swollen or inflamed due to these cancerous cells.
In chronic liver disease, the abdominal fluid (ascites) can build up and is accompanied by the swelling of legs. Leg swelling can also be caused by other illnesses such as heart or kidney disease.
· Indigestion, lack of appetite, weight loss and stomach upset.
When a liver tumor presses against the stomach and small intestine, a person may experience these symptoms. Some people can experience weight loss as an effect of liver cancer without undergoing dieting. Discomfort in the stomach may cause a person to lose appetite and this result in weight loss. Indigestion occurs as the small intestine is pressed by the liver tumor. Stomach upset includes bloating, nausea or vomiting. Constant stomach pain or feeling abnormally full after a snack or light meal could also occur as an effect of liver cancer.
Fever is one of the symptoms of liver cancer in which a person experiences a fever with body temperature of 38ºC (100.4ºF) or above. Fever is always a possible sign of infection. However, without an infection, fever is a possibly sign of liver cancer.
· Fatigue or weakness.
When a person is feeling worn out, this may be caused by liver cancer. Liver cancer may cause a person to feel extremely tired or weak throughout the day. Several naps are needed to be taken during the day or there are difficulties in getting out of bed in the morning. Liver cancer may interfere in a person’s ability to complete normal tasks (For example, folding laundry, lifting a child and doing exercises) if fatigue and muscle aches develop.
· Pain or discomfort that occurs in the right shoulder blade area.
Liver cancer is not necessarily painful because there are no nerve endings in the liver itself. Pain occurs may be due to the fact that liver stretched its covering. The covering does have nerves and this pain will be from the upper right abdomen, under the ribs on the right hand side. Sometimes, the pain comes from the shoulder. This is because the enlarged liver is pressing on nerves which are connected to nerves in the shoulder.
Any symptoms that is listed above is being experienced, it is unlikely will be cause by liver cancer. It is important to seek medical diagnosis from a doctor as the result may be a more common condition, such as an infection or there have been a previously diagnosed condition that is known to affect the liver, for example, hepatitis C infection or sudden health deterioration.