Signs to watch for liver cancer

Liver cancer symptoms are more likely to be caused by a more common health condition, such as an infection, but getting any symptoms you experience checked out is vital.

Although it is also an uncommon type of cancer, it is considered serious and can have fatal consequences. If the cancer starts in the liver, this is known as primary liver cancer, but if it spreads into another part of the body this is known as secondary liver cancer.

The symptoms of primary liver cancer can be mistaken for less serious conditions, but there are a number signs to be wary of that can easily be overlooked.

There are eight symptoms of liver cancer listed by Cancer Research UK. These are:

  1. Weight loss
  2. Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (known as jaundice)
  3. Itching
  4. Feeling sick
  5. Swollen tummy (abdomen)
  6. Loss of appetite or feeling full after eating smell amounts
  7. Pain in your abdomen or your right shoulder
  8. A lump in the right side of your abdomen

With secondary liver cancer the symptoms may appear slightly differently. These are noted as:

  • Feeling generally unwell
  • Discomfort or pain on the right side of your tummy (abdomen)
  • Feeling sick
  • Poor appetite and weight loss
  • A swollen abdomen
  • Pain in the abdomen or tummy
  • Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes, sometimes your skin will become itchy (jaundice)
  • Hiccups

There are a number of risk factors associated with liver cancer – one being alcoholic liver disease.

Liver disease that’s been caused by excess alcohol intake has several stages of severity.

There are three main stages – alcoholic fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis.

Alcoholic fatty liver disease is caused by drinking a large amount of alcohol, even for a few days, and the build-up of fats in the liver.

Alcoholic hepatitis is caused by alcohol misuse over a longer period of time, and cirrhosis is where the liver has become significantly scarred.

If the person doesn’t stop drinking at this stage, they have a less than 50 per cent chance of living for at least five more years.

TNT Health

Photo Credit: Kelsey L. Adams

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