Q:

What are the symptoms associated with liver cancer?

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Quick Answer

Symptoms of liver cancer include loss of weight, loss of appetite, pain in the upper right abdomen, yellow discoloration of the skin or eyes, and swelling of the legs, according to WebMD. As the condition becomes more advanced, patients may experience weakness, fever, nausea and vomiting.

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Full Answer

Liver cancer is classified as either primary or secondary, notes WebMD. Primary liver cancer begins in the liver, and accounts for approximately 2 percent of all cancers. Secondary, or metastatic, cancer begins in other areas of the body and then spreads to the liver. Most liver cancer falls into this category.

Liver cancers include hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma, and are generally caused by birth defects, alcohol abuse, chronic infections, obesity and cirrhosis, notes WebMD. More than half of all patients diagnosed with liver cancer have cirrhosis brought on by alcohol abuse.

Diagnosis of the condition is confirmed through blood tests to evaluate liver function; imaging tests, such as a CT scan or MRI; and biopsies, whereby a sample of liver tissue is removed and examined, explains Mayo Clinic. Upon a complete analysis, the treating physician can determine the stage of the cancer and the course of treatment.

Treatment of liver cancer depends on the scope and severity of the condition, and may include surgical removal of part of the liver, transplant, heating or freezing of cancer cells, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, notes WebMD.

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