Your liver is a big cleansing organ, which helps your body eliminate alcohol, toxic agents and waste from the blood and absorb nutritive elements from foods. In addition to this, it generates clotting factors, which are used to stop bleeding after injury.
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Special liver cells secrete bile in order to metabolize fats from your meals.
Everything goes perfectly, as long as liver cells work and divide in right manner.
But if troubles happen in the DNA – structure, which sends instructions to the whole body, regulating chemical processes and cell division.
Mutations in this genetic material may cause liver cells to propagate and grow too fast, disrupting normal life cycle of these elements. With time, these abnormal deathless cells may form a tumor.
Sometimes, unusual cells may have ability to spread from their primary location to distant areas. It means that these cells are cancerous and they are able to metastasize.
Actually people often confuse liver cancer with malignancy, which has first appeared in lung, breast or any other organs and then travels to the liver. But in reality, cancer is named after the area in which it originally develops.
So, if you have colon cancer, which has spread into the liver, it is called metastatic (or secondary) colon neoplasm.
Numerous studies show that not only genes are responsible for cancerous processes in the hepatic tissue. Alcohol misuse, obesity, exposure to aflatoxins (cancerogenic chemicals that may be found in moldy soybeans, peanuts and corn) and smoking can increase your chances of getting liver cancer.
But having one or even more risk factors doesn't mean that you'll definitely develop cancer. It's also completely possible that people with diagnosed liver malignancy have no risk factors.
Knowing your personal risks and first signs of liver cancer can help you detect this dangerous condition on the early stages and get effective treatment as soon as possible. Check up these factors and early symptoms:
#1. Chronic inflammation in the liver – some viruses are designed to attack liver cells and cause long-lasting inflammation, which usually results in cirrhosis – replacement of liver tissue by scar. Cirrhosis was found to play great role in developing hepatic cancer. According to the American Cancer Society's data, in the US viral hepatitis C is a major cause of cancer-associated cellular changes in the liver, while in Asia hepatitis B is a more frequent problem.
#2. Feeling a mass – when tumor grows in the liver tissue, you may feel a mass in the upper right abdomen, under the ribs.
#3. You take a glass now and then – heavy drinkers are much more likely to get high number of health problems. As liver is responsible for alcohol metabolization, taking too much of it can overload this large organ and damage its tissue.
#4. Yellowish skin – jaundice is a term, used to describe yellowing of the skin and eye whites. Normally, your red blood cells get broken down, releasing a substance called bilirubin, which is then eliminated by the liver. Cancerous cells don't perform this function properly. As a result, bilirubin builds up not only in the liver, but also in the skin and mucosal membranes that leads to their discoloration.
#5. Nausea and vomiting – lack of normal-working hepatic cells may significantly impair digestion, leading to dyspepsia. Another problem is that damaged liver fails to remove toxins as needed, so you may feel very sick all the time.
#6. Abdominal discomfort – feeling pain is not normal event in any case. People, who have liver cancer, often complain of heaviness, pain and discomfort in the upper right part of the belly. Sometimes painful sensations radiate into the right shoulder and upper back.
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#7. Swelling of the tummy – when abnormal cancerous cells crowd out normal hepatocytes, fluid may start to build up in the abdominal area, causing ascites.
#8. Itchy skin – liver failure, which may occur because of numerous reasons including cancer, leads to accumulation of bilirubin. This can not only make your skin yellow, but also cause unbearable itching.
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