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How can you detect liver problems?

Due to wide range of functions liver is essential for sustaining life, it is the largest organ in the body and the only organ capable of natural regeneration.

The cases of liver cancer are increasing, Hepatocellular cancer is the most common primary liver  cancer , according to American cancer society Liver cancer has more than tripled since 1980s, it is the fifth and eighth leading cause of death in men and women . HCC (hepatocellular carcinoma) is often diagnosed at later stages due to lack of awareness of the symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of Liver disease

  • Ascites, jaundice,nausea,hepatomegaly
  • Reduced appetite , itching
  • Abdominal pain

Investigations

  • Palpating the abdominal area checking for enlargement .
  • Ultrasound is often used to look at the liver.
  • MRI scan, CT scan
  • Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) elevated in 70% of patients with liver cancer.
  • Liver function tests (LFTs)
  • Laparoscopy and Liver Biopsy

Hepatocellular carcinoma This is the most common form of primary liver cancer in adultsoften in people with cirrhosis where liver cells  are replaced by scar tissue.  Chronic alcohol abuse or chronic HBV or HCV infections usually leads to cirrhosis. More common in male above ages 55 years or older

Secondary tumourof liver occur when cancer cells separated from primary tumour are transported through the blood stream to the liver where they get attached and establish secondary tumours.

Treatment modalities of Liver cancer

The stage of cancer is an indication of its spread. Staging is important factor in considering treatment optionsTheplan of treatment is decided by team of doctors in consultation with the patient, the team of doctors includes

  • Surgeon
  • Radiation oncologist
  • Medical oncologist
  • Gastroenterologist

Many additional treatment options are available for liver cancer treatment 

  • Partial hepatectomy-Surgery to remove part of the liver is called partial hepatectomy.
  • Radiation therapy- radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapyis treatment with drugs to destroy cancer cells, goal of chemotherapy is to shrink tumour , and kill rapidly dividing cancer cells that have returned after treatment or spread . 
  • Liver transplant is considered when  the tumour is limited to the liver it is not an option if cancer has spread to surrounding or blood vessel cause there still be cancer cells left in the body after transplant .
  • Targeted therapy- with newer drugs that specifically target the changes in cells that cause cancer, used to shrink the tumour or slow its growth
  • Immunotherapy- Immunotherapy is the use of medicines that help a person’s own immune system find and destroy cancer cells.
  • Tumour ablation-non invasive treatment that destroys liver tumours used in patients with a few small tumours when surgery is not a option.
  • Tumour embolization-  is a procedure that injects substances to try to block or reduce the blood flow to cancer cells in the liver ,
  • Alternative therapy might be helpful in relieving symptoms, but have not been scientifically proven as cure.

Cost Of Treatment of Liver Cancer in India  depends on variety of factors like the hospital patient chooses,fees for the team of doctors, cost of Tests and diagnostic procedure, type of treatment -cost of surgery,if liver transplant or partial hepatectomy ,  cost of radiotherapy , cost of chemotherapy,  Cost of follow -up care required.

  • The prognosis for liver cancer depends on multiple factors such as the size of the liver cancer,
  • The number of lesions,
  • The spread,
  • Type of treatment undertaken,
  • Health of the liver tissue that is not affected by cancer,
  • General health and fitness of the patient

Total cure of liver cancer is rarely observed, itmay never go away completely, so follow-up with blood tests and imaging tests on regular interval are essential to keep a check on the progress.

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