What is liver cancer?
Liver cancer is malignant cancer or we can say it is a tumor that basically starts in any part of the liver. By malignant, we mean that this tumor can spread to other parts of the body also. When the cancer is at its initial stage and has started in the liver, it is called as primary liver cancer.
Let us first understand some basics about the location of liver and what it does in our body. You must know that the liver is a very important part of the digestive system and is considered as one of the largest organs in the body. The liver is located in the upper-right part of the abdomen. It helps in the secretion of bile and makes enzymes to aid in the digestion of food. It also cleans the blood by removing all kinds of harmful materials from it.
Sometimes, cells in the liver start changing and no longer behave normally. These kinds of changes may lead liver cancer.
Symptoms and warning signs of liver cancer you need to pay attention to..!
In most of the cases, it is observed that liver cancer does not cause any signs or symptoms in its early stages of development. Since it is a large organ so it behaves normally even at some advanced stages. People start experiencing various signs and symptoms once the tumor grows and has started causing changes in the body, for example, blocking the bile ducts.
So, here we are going to discuss with you some of the signs that may be the warning of a liver cancer.
1. An Enlarged LiverIf you experience a swelling on the right side under the lower ribs, then this may be the indication of an enlarged liver. This experience is often associated with a feeling of fullness. Being a fairly wide organ, various physical changes are sometimes more pronounced than as compared to other organs.
There are various other scenarios in which your liver can grow beyond its normal proportions. So we cannot consider an enlarged liver as the only sign liver cancer. However, studies have shown that if it is a more defined mass which is stiff and is hard to the touch, then it could possibly be a tumor.
2. Skin Discoloration
Since the liver is associated with bile production and various other secretions, jaundice can occur in someone who is having liver problems because the levels of bilirubin get elevated in the blood. The yellow color of our blood is due to the pigment bilirubin present in our blood which is secreted by the liver. In normal conditions, bilirubin flows through the liver and gets eliminated through the digestive tract. But in case, the liver is having some problems then the yellowish pigment is not removed from the blood and is circulated throughout the body causing discoloration of the skin.
3. Pain in the Right Side of Body
At the early stages of liver cancer, there is not much pain or discomfort which is experienced by the patients. But as cancer grows they start noticing pressure and pain in the abdominal region. When the liver begins to press on the nerves which are present beneath the diaphragm. Then the pain is noticed in the right shoulder blade which is commonly known as referred pain. In most of the cases it’s only a mildly uncomfortable sensation. But in other cases, some patients may feel a constant pressure or even chronic hiccups can also occur.
4. Changes in Abdominal Area
Since the liver is present in the abdominal region, liver cancer will off course pose some changes in this region. Patients do experience pain or cramping in the lower abdominal area and if this is left untreated it may lead to ascites. There is a buildup of fluid in the abdomen which puts pressure on the lungs, causing difficulty with breathing.
Abdominal swelling and a loss of appetite are also experienced which results in nausea. With the advanced stages of cancer, liver loses its normal function and thus fails to filter all the toxic by-products from our digestive tract. These toxic substances build-up and cause a fuzzy feeling of nausea.
As the build-up continues, nausea can worsen, turn into vomiting and severe loss of appetite.
6. Acid Reflux
Experiencing frequent indigestion and acid reflux is considered to be an early sign of liver cancer.
Make an appointment with your doctor in case you experience any of the above signs or symptoms.