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Definition of Liver Cancer

Definition of liver
The liver is a large organ (1.5 kg on average - the largest of our body) located in the upper right abdomen and under the ribs. It is involved in many activities.

It makes - among other things - elements essential to good blood clotting, which helps prevent bleeding. It produces bile, which is necessary for the digestion of fats.

Different types of liver cancer

There are two types of liver cancer:

• The primary liver cancer or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) that develops from cells of the liver.

• The secondary cancer, when the liver is affected by cancer cells from another location. This is called hepatic metastases.

The causes of liver cancer

9 times out of 10, HCC developed on cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is the result of a slow transformation of the liver organ hard uneven surface. The cirrhotic liver is gradually built up scar tissue that gradually replaces cells essential to its operation.

Cirrhosis is a high risk of developing nodules (rounded structure and hard) that can become cancerous.

The causes of cirrhosis are not all limited to alcohol even though its excessive consumption - over a long period of life - is the source of more than two thirds of the disease. Cirrhosis who have no alcohol can be caused due to, inter alia, viral hepatitis virus (B, C, D), when chronic.

Besides alcohol and viral hepatitis, cirrhosis may also be due to genetic diseases (hemochromatosis, a genetic disease characterized by iron overload in the body), a disorder of the immune system (autoimmune hepatitis ), a metabolic disease.

Symptoms of liver cancer
If liver cancer is so serious, it is primarily because it is often diagnosed late. Indeed, liver disease is usually silent: Changes are often subtle and difficult to detect, so that for many years, cirrhosis can exist without symptoms or with symptoms not typical.

Thus, it is common for cirrhosis and cancer are identified at the same time.
The following symptoms should lead to visit a doctor even if their causes are multiple and unrelated cancer: liver pain, fever, impaired general condition (weight loss, loss of appetite, fatigue), jaundice (yellowing of the skin), etc..

When identified, liver cancer often consists of multiple small tumors increasing the complexity of the therapeutic management.

Detect liver cancer

Prevention is to avoid the appearance of liver disease. Know and avoid the risk of transmission, vaccination against hepatitis B, etc.. help protect against viral hepatitis.

The elimination of other risk factors especially alcohol or obesity, screening for hepatitis C are all solutions to act quickly in case of illness and prevent complications favor the development of liver cancer .

Cirrhotic patients, prevention is the reduction of risk factors and regular screening every 4-6 months by ultrasound combined with a blood test, the determination of alpha-fetoprotein (followed in case of abnormality by MRI, scanner and possibly a biopsy). However, liver cancer is difficult to detect cancer early.

Treatment of liver cancer

The treatment of HCC based on strategies that take into account the characteristics of the tumor (the number and size, development) and the existence (and severity) of cirrhosis.

The best cure is liver transplantation, regardless of the cause of cirrhosis. This is major surgery. Disease causing cirrhosis be cured or at least stabilized, and in the case of alcoholism, withdrawal (stop drinking) must have been obtained for several months. It is however reserved for patients aged less than 65 years old with cancer rather limited and relatively little aggressive.

Indeed, the shortage of grafts requires an average wait of 6 to 12 months, which requires a "waiting treatment" of cancer. Transplantation imposes thereafter, monitoring and treatment to ensure permanent graft tolerance and avoid rejection.

Alternatively, surgical excision (removal of the liver) is usually cirrhosis (10% patients) or without cirrhosis best solution is recommended for people with cancer.

This is because the cirrhotic liver of a tumor and tumor recurrence is common for patients to maintain good liver function remains restricted. Resection of alternative, Percutaneous tumor destruction alcohol (alcohol injection complete destruction of the cancer nodules) or radio frequency (low period, with the benefit of lower hospitalization) can be.

However, in 75% of cases, it is impossible to use a treatment. Chemoembolization (interrupts artery and the hepatic artery chemotherapy and the prevention of cancer nodules vascularization balls "frozen" by injection) as a treatment for patients with 20%.

Currently a new therapeutic approach is tested: the anti-angiogenic molecules aimed at destroying the blood vessels supplying the tumor or prevent their development.

Liver cancer: some figures

Liver cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer worldwide: more than 500,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. It is increasing, particularly due to the progression of hepatitis C. There are approximately 6000 new cases per year, mostly in men.

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