The number of people diagnosed with liver cancer in the U.S. has grown steadily for several decades. And the number of people who die from it is also on the rise. Liver cancer is usually not found until it’s advanced, making it harder to treat.

But you can take steps to reduce your risk of liver cancer. And you can increase your chances of finding it early by talking to your doctor as soon as you have symptoms. The sooner you begin treatment for liver cancer, the higher your chances of survival.

What is Liver Cancer?

Your liver is the largest organ inside your body. It performs many important jobs. These include breaking down and storing nutrients, helping blood to clot and filtering toxins from your blood.

When cancer starts in your liver, it is called primary liver cancer. The most common kind of primary liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Secondary liver cancer (metastatic liver cancer) occurs when cancer starts somewhere else in the body and spreads to the liver. More people in the U.S. have secondary liver cancer than primary liver cancer. However, HCC rates are increasing.

Signs & Symptoms of Liver Cancer

Symptoms of primary and secondary liver cancer include:

  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • A large lump on the right side of your abdomen, under the ribs
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the white part of the eyes)
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting

Anyone can get liver cancer. But primary liver cancer affects more than twice as many men as women. Your risk is also much higher if you’ve been infected with Hepatitis B or C, if you smoke or drink a lot of alcohol, or if you’re obese.

Liver Cancer Treatment at Mercy

If you have liver cancer, it’s natural to feel afraid. But you can also take comfort knowing Mercy offers the latest treatments for all types and stages of liver cancer.

Your treatment strategy will depend on several factors. These include the kind of liver cancer you have, and whether it has spread. 

You may need one or more types of treatment, including:

  • Surgery to remove part of your liver, or replace your entire liver with a healthy one (liver transplant)
  • Ablation therapies to destroy a tumor using heat, cold, microwave energy or ethanol
  • Embolization therapies to kill a tumor by cutting off its blood supply
  • Radiation therapy
  • Medication, including targeted therapy, immunotherapy or chemotherapy. Chemotherapy may be “systemic,” meaning the medicine travels through your entire body. Or it can be injected into the main artery in your liver, so it reaches the tumor more directly

Fighting liver cancer can take a toll on your physical and emotional health. But you can rest assured Mercy will be by your side every step of the way. Whether you need a shoulder to lean on or a hand to hold, you’ll find the strength and support you need at Mercy.

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