Symptoms often only appear when quite advanced, resulting in late diagnosis and poorer survival rates.
Livers are pretty impressive stuff. They make proteins, they convert fats to energy, and most of all they let us have a drink by breaking down all those harmful bits and pieces we pour down our throats.
The downside to livers? Over the last few decades, we’ve seen a sharp rise in the amount of Liver Cancer cases in the UK – particularly in men.
However, not all tumours in the liver are cancerous, some are benign. Benign liver tumours stay in the liver and don’t spread to anywhere else in your body. These generally aren’t life threatening, and often will only need to be removed if they cause you discomfort or are likely to bleed.
2,500men are diagnosed with Liver Cancer in the UK every year
70%of Liver Cancer cases are found in those aged 65+
20%survival of at least one year, with survival rates of 5 years or more only at around 5%
2/3of all Liver Cancer cases are diagnosed in men
No one knows exactly what causes Liver Cancer, but there are certain risk factors that can make it more likely to develop Liver Cancer. These include:
Long-term infection (such as Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C)
Heavy drinking over a long period of time
Liver Cancer can be tricky to spot in the early stages, so if you notice any of these symptoms, don’t mess around – get yourself down to the doctor, as if it does turn out to be Liver Cancer it could already be more advanced:
Jaundice (yellowy looking skin)
Unexplained weight loss
Loss of appetite that lasts longer than a week
Pain or discomfort in the stomach
Feeling or being sick
A high temperature and sweating
These symptoms could be caused by problems other than Liver Cancer, but you should still visit your GP sharpish so they can treat whatever’s going on in your body.
If you’re at a higher-risk of developing Liver Cancer (such as if you have Hepatitis C or Cirrhosis), then you should have regular check-ups for Liver Cancer. This will help make sure the Cancer is diagnosed early if you do have it.
Tests for Liver Cancer can include:
Blood tests: Called liver function tests (LFT), these show if the liver is working properly – though issues could be linked to other conditions aside from Liver Cancer
Ultrasound: This can be used to show any abnormal growths in your liver
Biopsy: You may not need a biopsy, but if you do this will be able to determine whether the growth is cancerous or not, and if it is whether it started in the liver, or spread to the liver from elsewhere