Metastatic Liver Cancer: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

metastatic liver cancer

Liver cancer, or medically termed ‘hepatic cancer’, formulates in the tissues of the liver, which happens to be the largest organ of the human body. The liver performs up to five hundred functions, starting from detoxification, synthesis of proteins, aiding in digestion, as well as breaking down fats. 

A source has revealed that liver cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world. The same source revealed that it is now considered the fastest growing cause of death caused by cancer. Statistics has shown that men are three times more affected to liver cancer than women. With that being said, the incidence rate of the disease is exponentially increasing throughout the globe. This blog will discuss what liver cancer is, its symptoms, causes and its treatment procedure. 

What is liver metastasis? 

A liver metastasis is a cancerous tumour that makes its way to the liver from a cancer that had started in another place in the body. It is also called secondary liver cancer. Normally, the primary liver cancer originates in the liver and from there it affects individuals who face risk factors such as hepatitis or cirrhosis. Most of the time, liver cancer is of a secondary category, meaning the metastatic. 

The cancer cells metastatic liver tumour are not liver cells, However, they are the cells from the part of the body where the primary cancer formulates. Take cancerous lungs cells, breasts, or colon as example. 

How does liver metastases differ from metastatic liver cancer? 

Although interchangeably one would take both the matters to be the same, when it comes to liver metastases, it is different from metastatic liver cancer. Liver metastases signifies the type of cancer that have metastasized or spread to the liver from a tumor that originates in another part of the body. Whereas the metastatic liver cancer originates in the gastrointestinal tract, lungs, breasts, pancreas, or the breast as the initial clinical manifestation. Metastatic liver cancer is an advanced stage of the disease that generally originates in the liver, however, spreads to the other part of the body. 

Symptoms of Metastatic liver cancer:

The symptoms of metastatic liver cancer often do not appear in the early stages. Therefore, the liver cancer does not get diagnosed until it progresses to the advanced stage. If you have ever been diagnosed with any other form of liver disease, or if your family has a history of liver cancer, there is a high chance of developing liver cancer. In such cases, you would have to do a regular follow-up visit with a doctor. As the formation of liver cancer are of two types, the symptoms would also vary. Moreover, the symptoms of metastatic liver cancer will vary depending on the placement of the recently developed tumor. For example, if the liver cancer spreads to the bone, the symptom would include bone fractures. However, there are a set of common symptoms that you would notice. They are as followed, 

● Experiencing pain near the right shoulder blade 

● Experiencing pain in the upper abdomen 

● Losing appetite 

● Losing weight 

● Bloating in the abdomen 

● Acute abdominal pain 

● Jaundice, which may be indicative through the yellow skin and eyes 

● Weakness or fatigue 

● Unexplained fever. 

Causes of metastatic liver cancer: 

A cancerous tumor is a group of cancer cell that grows into the nearby tissues of the liver and destroys them. However, cells in the liver sometimes alter which does not result in odd behaviour. These changes may lead to non-cancerous, or benign tumours that we know as hemangiomas. Although, in some cases, the alterations to the liver cells can cause liver cancer. Most often, the cancer starts in the cells that make up the body of the liver. This is called hepatocytes. This variation of cancer is termed hepatocellular carcinoma. It is considered as a type of primary liver cancer. Primary liver cancer can also begin in the cells that line the bile ducts in the liver. This variation of cancer is called intrahepatic bile duct cleaner or cholangiocarcinoma. 

Treatment plan for metastatic liver cancer: 

Once liver cancer spreads and transforms into a metastatic malignancy, it can no longer be treated with surgery as the cancer will have already spread to different parts of the body. Therefore, the liver cancer specialist may choose chemoembolisation as the suited treatment methodology. 

Chemoembolization is an interventional radiology technique specifically designed to lessen the blood supply of a tumour and deliver chemotherapy drugs directly to the tumour while reducing the exposure to the healthy tissues. The induction of this process will reduce the side effects of chemotherapy while killing the cancerous cells in the body.

Chemoembolization allows the chemotherapy drugs to directly target the cancerous tissues for a longer period of time in a higher concentration so that it can reduce the body’s exposure to the drugs. Because of the approach of the procedure, this process is mostly adhered to for treating liver cancer. 

Apart from chemoembolization, the oncologist may opt for targeted therapy as well to shut down the signals that allow cancer cells to grow. The targeted therapy will also prevent those cells to metastatize, stop the production of hormones that helps in the growth of cancerous cells, and repair the ability of cells to shut down in a defective state. The final element of this therapy will include radiation or chemotherapy. Depending on the symptoms, your oncologist may form a specific treatment plan to ease the issues associated with liver cancer. If you notice any symptoms of metastatic liver cancer, you must consult the doctor at the best hospital for liver cancer right away.