The liver is the largest internal organ and has several essential functions, including metabolism, detoxification, and the storage of various nutrients. Different types of cells in the liver perform these functions. These cells have predetermined division patterns based on the information present in the genes. At times, these cells may forego their designated functions and start dividing abnormally due to mutations, leading to the formation of a cancerous mass or tumor.
It is important not to ignore any symptoms that could possibly indicate liver carcinoma, as this condition needs prompt medical attention for effective management.
Liver cancer is one of the primary causes of cancer deaths globally. There has been a steady increase in the number of people diagnosed with and dying from this condition. Studies have suggested that various lifestyle factors contribute to this rise in the incidence rate.
Reports suggest that liver carcinoma is one of the most common cancer types, with the male-female ratio for hepatocellular carcinoma standing at 4:1 and the age of presentation spanning from 40 to 70.
There are various types of liver cancer, depending on the type of cell from which it arises. Of all the types of liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common.
HCC occurs in the cells of the liver (hepatocytes). The condition is also called hematoma and is the most common type of liver cancer. It accounts for almost 75% of all liver cancers and about 85 to 90% of all primary liver cancers. Patients with cirrhosis and chronic hepatitis have an increased risk for HCC.
This is an aggressive form of liver carcinoma that develops in the bile ducts of the liver. Cholangiocarcinoma may be intrahepatic or extrahepatic.
It is a rare tumor that occurs in the liver cells. It most commonly occurs in early childhood. Hepatoblastoma generally starts in the right lobe of the liver.
It is a rare form of liver carcinoma that generally develops in teenagers and adults below the age of 40. The clinical findings and behavior of fibrolamellar carcinoma are significantly different from those of HCC.
Metastatic liver cancer begins in the liver and spreads to other organs, such as the lungs. It is also referred to as advanced-stage liver carcinoma, which will often require a multimodal treatment approach. In these cases, the treatment goal is to prolong survival and improve the quality of life.
Hepatic angiosarcoma is an aggressive liver carcinoma that develops in the lymphatic or blood vessels. Patients with angiosarcoma experience jaundice, abdominal pain, and fatigue.
The TNM staging system assists oncologists in staging different cancers based on various criteria. It includes the extent of tumor (T), lymph node spread (N), and cancer metastasis (M).
The information obtained during TNM staging is used to assign a specific stage to each patient’s liver cancer case, where the stages 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4 (0, I, II, III, and IV) are used to indicate different stages of the disease. Stage 0 is often used to indicate precancerous lesions.
Stage 1 liver cancer is subdivided into Stage 1A and Stage 1B. In Stage 1A liver cancer, the liver tumor is ≤2 cm, has not grown into the blood vessels and has not spread to the lymph nodes. In Stage 1A liver cancer, the liver tumor is >2 cm, has not grown into the blood vessels, and has not spread to the lymph nodes.
Stage 2 liver cancer involves either a single liver tumor >2 cm in size that has grown into blood vessels OR two tumors, none larger than 5 cm. In both cases, the liver tumor does not spread to lymph nodes.
The patients with Stage 3A liver cancer have multiple tumors, of which one is ≥5 cm. The tumor does not spread to lymph nodes or distant sites. In stage 3B liver cancer, a tumor of any size grows into the major branch of the large liver vein. The cancer does not spread to lymph nodes or distant sites.
Patients with Stage 4A liver cancer have a tumor that would have spread to the nearby lymph nodes and not to distant sites. Patients with Stage 4B liver cancer have a tumor that has spread to distant sites, such as the lungs or bones. It may be referred to as end-stage liver cancer with a low survival rate.
Liver carcinoma develops in the liver. Primary liver cancer initiates in the liver, while secondary liver cancer (liver metastases) spreads to the liver from other organs. There are several types of liver cancer, such as hepatocellular carcinoma, cholangiocarcinoma, angiocarcinoma, and hepatoblastoma. The liver cancer stages are defined based on the TNM staging system.