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What are Symptoms of Liver Cancer?

By Shannon Kietzman
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Liver cancer is a type of cancer that affects the liver. It may be the primary form of cancer, which means the cancer begins in the cells of the liver, or it may be metastatic cancer, which means the cancer spreads from other areas of the body to the liver. This type of cancer is rare in the United States, with the average age of diagnosis being around 60 or 70. It is far more common in certain parts of Asia and in Africa. Regardless of the country, it occurs more frequently in men than in women.

There are a number of symptoms associated with liver cancer. Some of the most common symptoms include bloating and a feeling of abdominal fullness for no apparent reason. Weakness, fatigue, and unexplained fever are also signs, as is a dull pain in the upper portion of the abdomen. This pain may also extend into the patient’s shoulder and back. Anorexia is also a common symptom of this cancer, as the patient experiences loss of appetite, vomiting, and nausea.

The symptoms of liver cancer can differ in patients who also have cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis causes the symptoms to come on more quickly and to be more intense. Individuals with cancer who do not have cirrhosis, however, may not notice the symptoms at all. As the tumor grows larger, the affected person may also start to feel pain in his or her back. Portal hypertension and jaundice, which is characterized by the skin and the white portion of the eye becoming yellow, may also occur.

In order to diagnose liver cancer, a medical professional must take a computed tomography (CT) scan, a radioisotope scan, or a hepatic arteriography. Most patients are in the advanced stages of cancer before it is diagnosed. At this stage, the cancer has usually spread to other organs — most commonly the brain and the lungs — and to the lymphatic system. Individuals with liver cancer who do not receive treatment have a life expectancy of three to four months. Those who receive treatment typically live six to 18 months if the therapy used to treat the disease is successful.

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Discussion Comments

By anon996004 — On Jun 23, 2016

Just found out after going to a laser clinic that, not only was I blind in my left eye, but had a tumor behind the eye. After going to Bascom Palmer in Miami, I was told it was a choroid malignant melanoma (HCC). Now they want both a MRI as well as a CT to see if it has spread to my liver and other area's as well. As you can imagine I'm a little bit freaked out but all things considered I'm at the right age (67) and I'm falling apart both inside and out. What I would suggest to all "Baby Boomers" is to go and receive a full physical and do not procrastinate like I did so you can stay ahead of the game.

By anon322682 — On Feb 28, 2013

My father lived four days after his cancer was diagnosed in Nova Scotia. The doctors had misdiagnosed his symptoms of weight loss and confusion as Alzheimer's. When his stomach became extremely distended, he went to hospital and was told he had advanced liver cancer. He was given morphine and died within days.

By anon207298 — On Aug 19, 2011

Excellent information about liver cancer.

By anon155237 — On Feb 23, 2011

my best friend had all the symptoms above. it kills within a year but how do you get it exactly?

By anon152049 — On Feb 12, 2011

my friend's brother was told he has cancer in the bile duct in the liver. is there any treatment for it and how long is the life span to live after?

By anon148700 — On Feb 02, 2011

My grandad has liver cancer. He has been told that it is incurable, so how long do you think he will have to live?

By anon112968 — On Sep 22, 2010

I actually know of a girl who just died from liver cancer. she was only 30 and lived in Canada. She lasted only a couple of months before she passed away. Now I worry about my upper mid to right abdominal pain, right shoulder pain and back pain. And my doctor took a year to send me to a specialist.

By Sassycat44 — On Apr 04, 2009

Are all these flushes really healthy for you? Even if you are already healthy? I am afraid colon cleansing and the flushes you indicate may cause other problems for me.

By VivianSez — On Nov 16, 2008

Congestion of the liver can lead to cancer. When the liver is congested and gallstones are present in the gallbladder one needs to do 6 to 8 liver flushes. However, the steps are important. The best guide I have found for this is Andea Moritz's book "The Amazing Liver and Galbladder Flush". Most important is to do a parasite cleanse before the flush and a colonic the day of the flush and 3 days after. Many issues can be cleared up including high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, and yes, cancer. This becomes quite a journey of learning how to treat and feed your body and how to keep your colon and liver clean, but in the end you will be alive and healthy.

By somerset — On Aug 28, 2008

Unfortunately it is one of the more difficult cancers to treat. When the symptoms appear, the cancer tends to be in advanced stages.

Risk of liver cancer is increased by excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, and diabetes. There are other factors too, and we probably do not even know them all.

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