Liver cancer is the hardest cancer, which can carry a patient's life in a matter of months. Every year the disease is diagnosed in about 700,000 people. But with timely treatment to the doctor and the implementation of correct remedial measures, it is possible to increase the life expectancy of the patient, and in some cases is to relieve the patient from cancer.
Why and how is liver cancer, how to identify pathology and when there is a chance for a cure?
What is liver cancer
In the conversion of liver cells (hepatocytes) to tumor cells occurs malignancy called cancer of the liver. Most often, tumor cells enter the liver through the bloodstream and cause metastases there, but there are cases when cancer begins directly in the liver.
Therefore, depending on the underlying cause, liver cancer is classified into two subspecies:
- Primary liver cancer – hepatocytes under the influence of unfavorable factors are reborn and start to grow in the liver. This species is quite rare – just 3% of all recorded cases, and is called hepatocellular carcinoma. There are also several subtypes of primary cancer:
- Cholangiocellular cancer is very rare and is caused by a mutation of the cells of the bile ducts. This type is difficult to diagnose, so it is detected too late to cure when the pathology is already not possible.
- Hepatocholangiocarcinoma carcinoma – occurs when hepatocellular carcinoma liver combined with cholangiocellular cancer. The cellular structure of the tumors are of medium and high degree of malignancy.
- Fibrolamellar carcinoma – more common in children and in people of young and middle-aged (up to 35 years). Manifested by pain in the hypochondrium, so it can be determined at early stages and cure by resection and transplantation of liver tissue.
- Cistadenokarcinoma – has a cystic structure and most often affects women. The disease is accompanied by rapid weight loss and pain in the abdomen.
- Hepatoblastoma usually occurs in children under four years and has a high degree of malignancy and rapid metastasis.
- The epithelioid hemangioendothelioma – is the least malignant (compared to other species) and slower development.
- Angiosarcoma disease are more prone to the elderly, especially those who were exposed to chemicals. The development of the pathology is very fast, it has a high degree of aggression, therefore, more difficult to cure.
- Sarcoma of the liver, has the most aggressive course, and therefore virtually not curable. In most cases, despite treatment, death occurs very rapidly.
- Secondary cancer – tumor arising from the germination of the metastasis in the liver from other organs and systems. This type of cancer occurs twenty times more often primary cancer. Most often a secondary tumor causing pancreatic cancer with metastases to the liver. But metastasis to the liver can also occur from colon, lung, ovarian, stomach, kidney, uterus, and mammary glands.
Men identified in liver tumors, are malignant in 90% of cases. And liver cancer in women occurs in 40% of cases – 60% of tumors represent benign tumors
Please note! Liver cancer in men is found four times more often than female.
Liver cancer should be distinguished from cirrhosis the liver and the hemangioma. Hemangioma is a benign form and usually requires no special treatment.
at cirrhosis the liver is destroyed so that cure is not possible, and if cancer cures exist (depending on the stage of disease and at what stage was the treatment started).
Cancer usually appears on the background of existing cirrhosis and the common occurrence of abnormalities aggravates the symptoms and leave less chance of a favorable prognosis.
What causes liver cancer
Specific prerequisites for provoking the emergence of cancer cells in the liver have not been identified. But doctors have identified a number of external factors contributing to the development of this disease.
What causes the development of liver cancer:
- Diseases of the liver. In 80% of cases cancer is detected that is present in a patient with chronic viral hepatitis (often hepatitis In). The disease is asymptomatic, therefore is usually diagnosed too late. Hepatitis often causes cirrhosis that is diagnosed in 60-70% of cases of cancer.
- Cholelithiasis. Because of gallstones are protokah in the liver there are inflammatory processes that lead to cell mutation and malignant transformation them.
- Diabetes. In violation of metabolism combined with bad habits the likelihood of developing cancer increases significantly.
- Syphilis. With the defeat of the tissues and vessels of the syphilitic spirochete cells are prone to transformation into malignant.
- The influence of chemical substances. Long-term effect of toxic substances and toxins on the body affects the condition of the liver, banal disregard for safety, work in hazardous chemical production, consumption of carcinogenic products – all factors contributing to liver damage.
- Parasites. worms for a long time living in the liver, poisoning it with their own secretions, and even gnaw through it moves.
- Genetic predisposition. If someone close to you has cancer of the liver, then the likelihood of pathology increases.
- Bad habits. Tobacco and alcohol harmful effect on the liver and cause mutation of the cells of the liver.
- Drugs. Taking drugs (e.g. oral contraceptives, antibiotics, etc.) greatly tax the liver, which contributes to the development of cancer.
Please note! To protect the liver from harmful external influence to help welcome hepatoprotectors and 1-2 cups of organic coffee a day.
The tumor does not develop in healthy tissues, its appearance is always preceded by pathological changes in the liver cells, weakened by disease, bad habits, and carcinogens.
Symptoms and signs
The clinical picture of liver cancer has no characteristic symptoms, the disease is characterized by imperceptible beginning with nonspecific symptoms, leading to late diagnosis of the pathology, when possible chances for healing are lost.
Patients often do not notice the first symptoms of cancer of the liver, because they have similar manifestations in many other pathological conditions. So doctors advise anyone who falls into the category of risk (based on the causes of illness), in case of any deviation from the rules, to apply for examination to the doctors.
Cheerleaders have the following symptoms:
- Pain in the right hypochondrium. The feeling of pain, heaviness and discomfort on the right under the ribs at the early stage of tumor appears first only during exercise. Gradually the discomfort begin to occur at rest, while the growth of a tumor volume increases the stomach.
- Loss of appetite and dramatic weight loss. Such signs accompany any cancer.
- Disorders of the digestive system. Not associated with food dyspepsia (nausea, diarrhea, flatulence, vomiting) is always accompanied by disturbances of the liver.
- General deterioration – fatigue, drowsiness, fatigue.
- Unexplained fever and a nosebleed.
- An increase in the abdomen. Due to the growth of the tumor, as well as due to the accumulation of abdominal fluid the abdomen increases markedly in volume.
- Yellowness. The appearance of the tumor prevents the output of bile, because of what it gets in the blood. As a result, a cancer patient can detect external signs of disease – yellowing of the eye sclera, the appearance of yellow spots on the skin. The stool has a characteristic light color, and the urine, on the contrary, becomes darker.
Signs of liver cancer in women can be complemented by the development of obesity, decrease muscle tone, skin pigmentation. The symptoms of liver cancer in men can occur but much less frequently and not-so-bright manifestations.
Please note! Secondary cancer in the liver metastasis infiltrating from neighboring organs. The symptoms of liver cancer are not as pronounced as they develop on the background of signs of cancer of the organs of the primary lesion.
The clinical picture also varies depending on the stage of the cancer and the development of related diseases.
The first stage
The tumor just appeared and has not yet had time to affect the blood vessels. The size of tumors may take not more than a quarter of the entire surface of the body, such small volume does not allow to diagnose the pathology at this stage.
Signs are not specific or does not appear. A person may be:
- Decreased performance;
Usually in the first stage the tumor can be detected incidentally – in the diagnosis of other diseases. But if the disease is difficult to diagnose at this stage, the prognosis in most cases favorable.
The second stage
The tumor is significantly increased in size and starts to penetrate into the vessels.
Symptoms of liver cancer in women and men is increasing and aggravated – there is soreness and heaviness in region of right ribs, sometimes there is a feeling of discomfort in the lumbar region.
The third stage
The tumor continues to increase in size, so that it is already possible to detect in the diagnostic activities.
This stage has three degrees of liver cancer:
- 3A – the tumor cells affect the liver and the portal vein;
- 3B – abnormal cells spliced with the outer shell of the liver or grow into neighboring organs;
- 3C – the tumor penetrates in lymph nodes and affects the neighboring organs liver.
In the third stage, the patient can independently identify the signs of cancer:
- A marked increase in the liver;
- The feeling of fullness.
General condition at this stage is worse, the pain, the digestive disorders grow.
The fourth stage
Metastases spread to virtually all systems and organs with blood flow.
All the symptoms of the earlier stages are enhanced and added to them are signs of damage to other organs.
Important! At the fourth degree of the pathology, the duration of life of the patient is only a few months.
At this stage it is impossible to cure the patient, doctors can only alleviate the condition of the patient and to support the work of the body.
Is there a cure liver cancer
The chances of recovery for cancer of the liver depend on the size and extent of liver damage, proliferation metastasis, liver function, concomitant diseases.
First, the doctor determines the stage of liver cancer using the following diagnostic methods:
- Palpation and percussion (external examination of the patient);
- Blood tests and urine tests;
- Test for tumor markers;
- CT and MRT;
- Histological study;
On the basis of the conducted analyses of treatment of cancer. Radical therapies in Oncology of the liver are inconclusive, and surgery is only possible if the tumor is small in size.
Most patients with liver cancer are deemed inoperable, and they will be given palliative treatment, that is aimed at relief of symptoms and alleviate the condition.
- Existing methods of cancer treatment:
- Operational measures (resection, transplantation);
- Local effects (ablation);
- Systemic therapy (molecular targeted therapy, chemotherapy, symptomatic treatment);
- Supporting the event.
Important! Despite the fact that 4 liver cancer with metastasis can't be cured, it is possible to suspend the pathological process and extend the life of the patient.
Surgical intervention is only possible with small size of tumors and is done by two methods:
- Transplantation – organ transplant allows you to save the patient not only from cancer but also from all existing pathologies of the liver;
- Resection removes the diseased portion of the liver (you can remove up to 80% of functional tissue).
Surgical measures – the only way to completely get rid of cancer, but since cancer is defined most often in the later stages, these measures were not applicable in all cases.
In the early and mid-stage cancer can be cured by applying ablation, in which there is destruction of cells with liquid nitrogen, of radio waves, the introduction of radioactive balls.
In progressive degrees cancer using the method of radiation therapy does not destroy cancer, but it allows to partially reduce the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.
Often systemic therapy is a method of chemotherapy in which the medication to destroy cancer cells. The best effect can be achieved with the introduction of drugs into the hepatic artery, intravenous and oral chemotherapy for liver cancer does not give a high effect.
Chemotherapy for cancer of the liver does not bring the expected recovery, and the results of the efficiency of this method do not exceed 15-20%. Chemotherapy is used in progressive cancer to slow the progress of the disease.
A new systemic therapy is a targeted molecular therapy, which allows to destroy cancer cells, but not harm the surrounding tissues.
In incurable stages of cancer the patient is supportive care, consisting in removing or alleviating the symptoms of cancer, and psychological support, the use of support measures.
Ancillary measures include following a special diet and the use of traditional methods (propolis, watermelon juice, decoction of oats). These activities will not help to reduce tumor size, but cropped unpleasant symptoms and to support the functioning of the liver.
How long can you live with liver cancer
Cancer of the liver – one of the most complex pathologies, therefore, to predict the life expectancy with this disease is quite difficult.
How long live with liver cancer depends on the stage of pathology:
- The first – the chances of a cure and prolongation of life is quite high. The liver has high regenerative abilities, but because 70% of patients can live much longer than the period of five years.
- The second is to cure the disease fail, but the chance to live the next five years are approximately half of the patients.
- Third, the abdominal cavity completely filled with metastases, which causes the occurrence of relapses. The survival rate in this case does not exceed 30%.
- At the fourth treatment at this stage is useless, terms of life expectancy is a few months (in rare cases, several years).
Thanks to modern techniques doctors achieve five-year survival rate of more than 40% of operated. The majority of patients maintain quality of life and they are not disturbed by unpleasant symptoms.
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