A liver tumor is an abnormal growth or mass found in the liver
The most common liver tumor is a secondary (metastatic) tumor. This means that the tumor has spread to the liver from its original source of origin. The most common sources of origin are cancers of the intestines, breast or bronchial tubes (lungs). The tumor will take root in the liver and continue to grow, eventually causing liver enlargement and perhaps yellow jaundice.
Primary tumors begin their existence in the liver. Tumors that originate in the liver may be benign or malignant. The most common are malignant. Diagnosis is made with imaging techniques such as ultrasound scan, CAT scan or MRI of the liver.
Primary Liver Cancer
Primary liver cancer refers to cancer cells originating in the liver. Primary cancer of the liver is one of the most common cancers worldwide, although much less common in the Western Hemisphere. It usually presents itself in persons below the age of 50 years.
The symptoms usually progress rapidly and consist of weight loss, loss of appetite, fever, abdominal pain and swelling. The liver feels enlarged and irregular. Primary liver cancer does not have a good outlook, and this is why it is important to avoid the factors that cause it. Early diagnosis and correction of these factors can prevent primary liver cancer.
Screening for liver cancer should be done every 6 months in high risk patients
The screening tests include –
- A blood test to measure the level of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), which is a marker for liver cancer
- An ultrasound scan of the liver
What factors increase the risk of primary liver cancer?
- African descent and aged over 20
- A family history of liver cancer
- Older age – In North America, Europe and Australia, liver cancer most commonly affects older adults. In Asia and Africa, liver cancer diagnosis tends to occur at a younger age (between 20 and 50) because of the high incidence of chronic viral hepatitis in children.
- Cirrhosis – over many years, chronic inflammation causes scar tissue to form in your liver and this increases your chances of developing liver cancer.
- Some genetic liver diseases – inherited liver diseases that can increase the risk of liver cancer include hemochromatosis (iron overload) and Wilson’s disease (copper overload).
- Diabetes – diabetics have a greater risk of liver cancer than do people who don’t have diabetes
- Fatty liver disease – severe accumulation of fat in the liver increases the risk of liver cancer.
- Exposure to aflatoxins – Eating foods contaminated with fungi that produce aflatoxins greatly increases the risk of liver cancer. Crops such as corn and peanuts can become contaminated with aflatoxins.
- Chronic infection with the HBV or the HCV
- High alcohol intake – Drinking more than a moderate amount of alcohol over many years increases your risk of liver cancer.
- Obesity – If you are very overweight you have a higher risk of liver cancer.
- Your sex – men are more likely to develop liver cancer than are women.
Liver Cancer Prevention
A healthy diet and lifestyle can greatly reduce your risk of liver cancer, even if you have a chronic viral infection of the liver. Avoid smoking and excess alcohol intake and follow the dietary recommendations found in Dr Cabot’s Liver Health Guide, click here to download.
The most important nutrients to prevent cancer include -
- Selenium – see www.seleniumresearch.com
- Vitamin D
- Omega 3 essential fatty acids
- Phyto-nutrients and pigments found in a wide variety of herbs, fruits and vegetables
I urge you to check you have an adequate amount of these things in your diet and to supplement with vitamin D, selenium, zinc and iodine.