Liver cancer is the 6th most widespread cancer and the third leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide. Liver cancer cases and fatality rates are estimated to increase by more than 55% by 2040!
The liver is one of the most complex and largest organs, positioned below the right lung. It is known to perform about 500 various tasks, including protein synthesis, hormone production, blood glucose regulation, bile secretion, toxin breakdown, helping in blood clot formation, fighting infections, and so on.
It is an amazing organ that can recover entirely even after 80% of the liver has been destroyed. The earlier liver cancer is detected, the more effective treatment can be done. Can liver cancer be avoided? If yes, then how?
What is Liver Cancer?
Liver cancer (also called hepatic cancer) develops when cells in the liver grow at an abnormal rate, leading to the formation of a tumor that can be malignant (cancerous) or benign (noncancerous). Primary liver cancer occurs when cancerous cells begin in the liver, and Metastatic liver cancer is cancer that spreads from another organ to the liver.
Types of cancer affect the liver
1. Primary cancer develops in the liver first and can spread to other organs. Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most prevalent type of primary cancer.
2. Metastasized liver cancer originates in another part of the body. Because the liver filters the blood, cancer cells can easily migrate from another damaged organ to the liver.
There may be no noticeable symptoms in the initial stages of liver cancer. People may notice one or more of these common symptoms as cancer grows. It's crucial to realize that various other health issues could cause these symptoms. Symptoms of liver cancer may include:
What are the leading causes of liver cancer?
Chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus is the most prevalent risk factor for developing liver cancer. Preventing hepatitis could significantly reduce the risk of liver cancer, potentially reducing the incidence in half. Patients will be protected from hepatitis, which leads to liver cirrhosis and raises the risk of liver cancer.
Can liver cancer be prevented?
No! One can't prevent liver cancer.
Although liver cancer cannot be prevented, the risk can be reduced. Liver cancer prevention is any action taken to reduce the risk of developing cancer. The most crucial step is to have a healthy lifestyle, which includes the following:
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy weight; if you are currently in a healthy weight range, keep it. To reduce weight, adhere to a balanced diet and increase daily physical activity.
- Drink alcohol the limit, no more than one drink per day for ladies and two drinks per day for males.
- Reduce the risk of liver disease by eating a nutritious diet rich in grapefruit, cranberries, blueberries, grapes, cruciferous vegetables, nuts, seeds, salmon, and olive oil. To boost liver health, avoid fatty foods.
Cancer Protective Factor
A cancer protective factor is anything that reduces the chances of getting cancer. Preventive measures include avoiding risk factors and boosting protective factors. Here are some of the protective factors for liver cancer:
- Getting the hepatitis B vaccine
- Getting treatment for chronic hepatitis B infection
- Reducing exposure to aflatoxin B1
Getting vaccinated can help people avoid hepatitis infections. The hepatitis B vaccine is life-saving, and there is no vaccination for hepatitis C at this time. Additional steps; one can also use protection during physical intercourse, avoid intravenous drugs, and go to trustworthy tattoo and piercing shops.
Is it possible to fully recover from liver cancer?
Yes, recovery from liver cancer is possible. Those who have received a liver transplant and have early-stage liver cancer have a 5-year survival rate of around 80%.
Who is at risk of liver cancer?
Any condition that develops abnormal liver cells increases the chance of cancer. For example, HBV and HCV are the most common risk factors for liver cancer. Other risk factors for liver cancer include:
- Cirrhosis, commonly known as liver scarring, causes permanent and progressive liver damage.
- Diabetes type 2 increases the risk by 2-3 times.
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease affects people who drink little to no alcohol but accumulate excess fat in their liver cells.
- Aflatoxin exposure, which are carcinogen produced by mold in soil, decomposing vegetation, hay, and grains
- Excessive alcohol use can induce scarring and irreversible liver damage as the liver filters alcohol.
- Smoking because the carcinogens in cigarettes create liver stres
- Obesity increases cancer risk because of a high BMI and waist circumference.
Screening for Primary Liver Cancer
Cirrhosis of the liver and various other types of chronic liver disease, such as chronic hepatitis B, increase the risk of liver inflammation, scarring, and liver cancer growth.
We can help patients plan a surveillance plan that includes routine screening using imaging tests, such as ultrasound. This will help us detect the disease early, allowing anyone to begin treatment while the cancer is still highly treatable.