Categories:Health-Care Information< BACK
Title: Liver Cancer
Date: 2009-05-25


1.      Liver Cancer
Liver cancer results from the abnormal growth of the cells of the liver. It can be a primary cancer (starts in the liver) or secondary cancer (originates and spreads from another body organ to the liver). Liver cancer is one of the most common cancers in Hong Kong. It is the number two cancer killer and about 1000 patients die of liver cancer every year. There are about 1500 new cases per year, of which man has higher risk than woman. The average age of having liver cancer is around 60-65.
2.      Risk factors
The major risk factors of primary liver cancer are:
  • Cirrhosis of liver
  • Chronic viral hepatitis, of which the most common is hepatitis B
  • Certain toxins and chemicals, e.g. aflatoxins (i.e. a toxin found in molded peanuts or other foods)
  • Long-standing alcohol abuse
  • Prolong exposure to certain environmental pollutants, e.g. polyvinyl chloride used in manufacturing plastics
3.      Common Symptoms
In the early stages, liver cancer usually has no symptoms. Symptoms can include:
  • Pain in the upper right side of the abdomen
  • Fever
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Dark urine and pale stools
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue and weakness
4.      Ways of Prevention
  • Reduce alcohol intake
  • Receive hepatitis B vaccine to protect against hepatitis B infection
  • Reduce shared needle use among drug addicts
5.      What is the treatment?
Treatment for liver cancer will depend on whether it is a primary or secondary cancer. Options may include surgery, chemotherapy (the use of anti-cancer drugs), or radiotherapy (use of x-rays to target and kill cancer cells), alone or in combination. In some cases, liver transplantation may be performed. The choice of an appropriate treatment is based on the severity of the symptoms, the extent to which they affect the patient's life, and the presence of any other medical conditions
6.  How can I help myself?
If you have a diagnosis of liver cancer, there are many things you can do to cope better and to improve your quality of life, including:
  • Understand your illness and its treatment.
  • Talk to someone (your partner, a friend or counselor) how you feel.
  • Learn how to cooperate with the people involved with your care, including the health professionals, your family and friends.
  • Take part in support groups to boost the ability to self-care and to obtain mutual support
  • Eat properly and have a low fat healthy diet.
  • Exercise regularly under medical supervision.
  • Avoid stress, learn relaxation techniques and do things that you can enjoy.
If you have any suspicions, you should seek medical advice.