What is liver cancer?

Dr. Ajay K. Sahajpal, MD
Transplant Surgeon

Liver cancer is a broad term that can refer to primary liver tumors such as hepatocellular cancer or cholangiocarcinoma or secondary liver cancers that are metastases such as colon cancer metastases to the liver.

In general on is referring  to hepatocellular cancer with the term liver cancer. This is a type of cancer that occurs almost 90% of the time in the setting of liver disease and cirrhosis.

Liver cancer is a disease characterized by an abnormal growth of harmful cells in the liver. It is called metastatic liver cancer if the cancer begins in another part of the body and spreads to the liver. The liver is an important organ that secretes bile and cleans the blood.

Liver cancer, also called hepatocellular cancer, occurs when some of the liver cells start behaving badly and split out of control, making more and more bad cells. Eventually, the bad cells grow together to form lumps called tumors. Symptoms of liver cancer include tiredness, feeling sick, loss of appetite, and fevers. There may also be pain over the liver and jaundice, which is when the eyes and skin look yellow.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.