A liver adenocarcinoma, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma and liver cancer, is a cancer or malignancy in the liver. There are two types of liver adenocarcinoma — primary and secondary. The former is a cancer that originated in the liver. The later is a result of a cancer that started from a nearby organ and has metastasized or spread to the liver. Of the two types, secondary liver adenocarcinoma is the most common.
There are several factors that may increase the risk of developing primary liver adenocarcinoma. These include past infections with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV), which usually result in liver cirrhosis or the scarring of the liver. Individuals who are chronic alcohol drinkers and those who are exposed to certain chemicals, such as vinyl chloride may also have increased risks. A small number of patients affected with hereditary hemochromatosis, a condition where there is increased iron in the blood, may also develop liver adenocarcinoma.
Symptoms of the disease include nausea, abdominal pain, fever, sudden weight loss, and decreased appetite. Many patients also present with ascites or the accumulation of fluid in the abdomen, and edema or the accumulation of fluids in the feet and legs. Another symptom commonly manifested by these patients is jaundice or the yellowing of the skin and eyes.
Gastroenterologists, doctors who treat patients with gastrointestinal diseases, and oncologists, doctors who treat cancer patients, are usually the ones attending to patients suffering from liver cancer. They usually diagnose these patients through physical examination and additional blood tests. One particular blood test often done is to test for the level of alpha-fetoprotein, a tumor marker that is usually elevated in cases of liver cancer. A series of imaging tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scan are also often performed on these patients.
Treatment for liver adenocarcinoma frequently depends on the size of the tumor and the health condition of patient. The most effective cure, however, is liver transplantation. For smaller tumors, resection or removal of some parts of the liver is sometimes recommended. Other treatment options include chemotherapy and ablation technique. Ablation technique is a procedure that uses heat to destroy the tumor. Supportive therapies often given to these patients are pain relievers, and use of diuretics to relieve the accumulation of fluids in the tissues.