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Hepatocellular Carcinoma

  • Date Submitted: 06/11/2011 09:52 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 28.9 
  • Words: 301
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Hepatocellular carcinoma is a type of liver cancer that originates in the liver, unlike secondary liver cancer (metastatic liver cancer), which originates in a different organ, such as the colon, and spreads to the liver. Hepatocellular carcinoma accounts for most liver cancers. In most cases, the cause of liver cancer is usually scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) which may be caused by alcohol abuse; too much iron in the body (hemochromatosis); certain autoimmune diseases of the liver (a condition that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue); diseases that cause long-term inflammation of the liver; and/or hepatitis B or C. Individuals with hepatitis B or C are at risk for liver cancer, even if they do not have cirrhosis.
A lengthy period of time passes between the start of liver cancer and the onset of identifiable symptoms. Even when the symptoms develop, they are often vague and could point to a variety of possible illnesses. This explains, in part, the high mortality rate associated with the disease: by the time liver cancer symptoms appear, the cancer is already well established. Some of the symptoms of hepatocellular carcinoma include fatigue; fever; unexplained weight loss; lack of appetite; abdominal pain or tenderness, especially in the upper-right part of the abdomen, as that is where the liver is located; easy bruising and bleeding, which occurs as the liver loses the ability to produce blood-clotting agents; and/or jaundice and ascites (fluid in the abdomen), which may contribute to abdominal pain. Symptoms of jaundice and ascites include yellow skin and eyes and dark-coloured urine. Many of the symptoms of liver cancer are linked and/or caused by other symptoms, sort of like a domino effect, therefore making the disease even more difficult to diagnose.

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