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Warning Signs of Liver Cancer
June 10, 2023

Liver cancer is cancer that begins in the cells of your liver. Your liver is a football-sized organ that sits in the upper right portion of your abdomen, beneath your diaphragm and above your stomach.
Cancer that spreads to the liver is more common than cancer that begins in the liver cells. Cancer that begins in another area of the body — such as the colon, lung or breast — and then spreads to the liver is called metastatic cancer rather than liver cancer. This type of cancer is named after the organ in which it began — such as metastatic colon cancer to describe cancer that begins in the colon and spreads to the liver.

Most people don’t have signs and symptoms in the early stages of primary liver cancer. When signs and symptoms do appear, they may include:

  • Losing weight without trying
  • Loss of appetite
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • General weakness and fatigue
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Yellow discoloration of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
  • White, chalky stools

Liver cancer happens when something affects healthy liver cells’ DNA. DNA carries the genes that tell our cells how to function. We all have genes that tell cells when to grow, multiply and die. For example, oncogenes help cells grow and divide. Other genes, called tumor suppressor genes, monitor cell activity, keeping cells from multiplying uncontrollably and making sure cells die when they’re supposed to die.

When our DNA mutates or changes, our cells get new instructions. In HCC, DNA changes turn on oncogenes and/or turn off tumor suppressor genes. For example, studies show cirrhosis related to hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) account for more than half of all HCC cases. When these viruses infect liver cells, they change cell DNA, turning healthy liver cells into cancerous cells.

While you can’t completely prevent liver cancer, you can do the following to lower your chances of getting liver cancer:

  • Avoid behaviors that lead to cirrhosis.
  • Reach or maintain a healthy weight.
  • Get a hepatitis B vaccine. This vaccine is safe for nearly everyone. Ask your doctor about the hepatitis
  • A vaccine.
  • Avoid hepatitis C.

If you have any liver disease, have diabetes, obesity or are a heavy drinker, ask your healthcare provider about liver cancer screenings.

What Else?

Important Reminder: Any type of food supplement is not a medicine and cannot be used as a medicine for any type of disease.

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