Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital

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What Is Liver Cancer?

Primary Liver Cancer: This is when a malignant tumour starts in the liver. There are different types of primary liver cancer:

  • Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) – starts in the hepatocytes, the main cell type in the liver. HCC, also called hepatoma, is the most common type of primary liver cancer.
  • Cholangiocarcinoma – starts in the cells lining the bile ducts, which connect the liver to the bowel and the gall bladder. It is also called bile duct cancer.
  • Angiosarcoma – a rare type of liver cancer starting in the blood vessels. It usually occurs in people over 70.

Secondary Liver Cancer:Secondary Liver Cancer in the liver is cancer that started in another part of the body but has spread (metastasised) to the liver. Most cancers can spread to the liver. Cancers that start in the digestive system (including cancers of the oesophagus, stomach, pancreas and large bowel) are most likely to spread to the liver.

This is because blood cells flow from the digestive organs through the liver, and cancerous blood cells can get stuck (lodge) in the liver. Melanoma and cancers of the breast, ovary, kidney and lung can also metastasise to the liver.

Secondary cancer in the liver is sometimes found at the same time that the primary cancer is diagnosed. However, it can also be diagnosed soon after the primary cancer, or it may be diagnosed months or years after someone has been treated for primary cancer. It could also be diagnosed before the primary cancer is found. If other tests don’t show what the primary cancer is, this is called cancer of unknown primary (CUP).

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