Liver cancer is a growing cause of casualties in India and the world. Like all cancers, liver cancer can also be attributed to the uncharacteristic rise in cell reproduction. When more cells are produced than needed, tumours, which can be either benign or malignant, are formed. The benign tumours are relatively harmless, as they can be eliminated from the system. On the other hand, malignant tumours are hard to deal with and escalate into cancer. These tumours multiply at a rapid pace and spread to distant body parts via blood and lymph nodes.
Liver is vulnerable to several types of cancers, such as Hepatocellular Carcinoma, Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma and Hepatoblastoma. Hepatocellular Carcinoma is the most prevalent form of liver cancer that originates from Hepatocyte, the primary cells found in liver. Individuals with chronic liver issues like cirrhosis are more prone to this dreaded condition. Atypical Hepatocellular Carcinoma screening involves blood tests, standard imaging tests and liver biopsy. Advanced imaging tests, including Magnetic Resonance Elastography may also be used.
The general prognosis of liver cancer is awful. The symptoms remain dormant in the early stages and when they surface, the disease becomes virtually uncontrollable. The standard signs and symptoms of liver cancer may include, but not limited to, liver overgrowth, white-collared stools and skin turning yellow. Other non-specific symptoms include sudden and drastic weight loss, appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, constant fatigue and atypical swelling. These symptoms are called nonspecific, as other chronic disorders may trigger similar effects.
As per the TNM system for staging, liver cancer is categorized into four stages and several sub-stages.
Stage 1: At the onset of liver cancer, a tumour develops within the liver. However, effects of the tumour are localized, as it is yet to come in contact with any blood vessels.
Stage 2: The tumour grows in dimension reaching a size up to 5 cm across. The possibility of developing several small tumours is also there. Though the tumour has grown into blood vessels, the spread is still localised.
Stage 3A: This stage is also characterised by outgrowth of the tumour(s). The average size of the tumour is 5 cm across, and surrounding lymph nodes still remain immune to the cancer.
Stage 3 B: One or more tumours intrude into the portal or hepatic vein of the liver. Here the nearby lymph nodes and distant body organs are yet to get in contact with the malignancy.
Stage 3C: The tumour has either engulfed the outer surface of the liver or penetrated into nearby organs. Distant sites are still not affected by the cancer.
Stage 4A: The size and number of tumours in the liver grow phenomenally. This stage also marks the spread of tumours into lymph nodes, blood vessels or surrounding organs. The distant sites are still unaffected.
Stage 4B: The entire body is infected by the malignant cells.
Best Liver Cancer treatment is available at RGCIRC hospital in Delhi, India for Hepatocellular Carcinoma, which may include surgery, liver transplants, ablation procedures, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and targeted drug therapy. A combination of two or more therapies is a common practice.