Liver Cancer Overview
Liver cancer is such type of cancer which occurs in the liver cells. The liver is a small organ nearly the size of a football, well placed in the upper right region of the abdomen below the diaphragm and just above the stomach. Majority of people might not experience any particular signs and symptoms during the initial phase. But eventually, some of the symptoms do appear with time which requires treatment.
Liver cancer treatment in India is available in several hospitals in different cities. Like in any other cancer treatment this one also involves a team of doctors who work together efficiently to structure a patient’s overall treatment plan after accessing all factors.
The entire team of healthcare professionals includes specialized physicians, physician assistant, pharmacists, oncology nurse, oncology specialized dietitians, and most importantly patient care executive or counsellor, especially for foreign patients.
Major Types of Liver Cancer
Cancers of the liver are classified based on their origin from different cells of the liver. Some of the major types of Liver cancers are as follows,
- Hepatocellular Carcinoma
HCC or hepatocellular carcinoma is one of the most common forms of liver cancer in adults. The condition usually develops in the hepatocytes, which are the main liver cells. Some of these cancers start as a single tumor and grows into a large tumor. They can also spread to other parts of the liver. The second type of HCC starts as small cancer nodules all through the liver and not just as a single tumor. Cancer can spread from the liver to other parts of the body such as the intestines, pancreas and the stomach.
This is the common cancer of the bile duct and about 10 to 20% of the liver cancers start as cholangiocarcinomas. These cancers can either start in the cells that lines the bile ducts (intrahepatic bile duct carcinoma) or can also start in the bile ducts outside the liver (extrahepatic bile duct cancer).
3. Angiosarcoma and hemangiosarcoma
These are pretty rare cancers of the blood vessels that supply the liver. The most common risk factor for this cancer is exposure to vinyl chloride or thorium dioxide. Exposure to arsenic or radium can also result in angiosarcoma. Hereditary hemochromatosis is a rare inherited condition where the exact cause of the cancer is not known. These types of cancers are hard to treat and are generally widespread by the time diagnosis is made.
This is a very common type of liver cancer that develops in children who are younger than four years of age. The hepatoblastoma cells look similar to the fetal liver cells and can successfully be treated by surgery and chemotherapy. Prognosis is excellent when early diagnosis is made.
5. Metastatic liver cancer
Secondary liver cancers or metastatic liver cancers are those where the origin of the cancer is elsewhere and the liver becomes the victim of tumor spread. The tumors are named and treated according to the primary tumor site where they started.
6. Benign liver tumors:
These are non-cancerous and can sometimes grow large enough to create problems, but they do not invade nearby tissues or affect distant parts of the body. The benign tumors are more common in women than in men. These tumors are generally cured by surgery. The common types of benign tumors are,
- Hemangioma – These are the tumors of the blood vessels
- Hepatic adenoma – These are benign tumors that start from the hepatocytes or the liver cells.
- Focal nodular hyperplasia – This tumor grows from several types of liver cells, namely hepatocytes, cells of the connective tissue and the bile duct.
What are the factors involved in liver cancer treatment?
The recommendations, as well as options, depends upon several factors:
- The extent of the liver which is affected by the cancer
- Whether the cancer is spreading or has already spread
- The overall health of the patient before starting with the treatment
- The damage already caused to the cancer-free area of the liver
Liver cancer treatment can be started only after a proper diagnosis of the disease. Further, the selection of particular liver cancer treatment depends on several factors as well as what the doctor considers is best for the patient in such a scenario.
Liver cancer during the early stages is comparatively easy to treat than in later stages. Addition of some complications can also make the treatment more tricky and difficult. But the main goal of is obviously to help the patient recover from cancer and improve the quality of life in every manner.
Hepatectomy or even liver transplant can be suggested besides chemotherapy and radiotherapy. At times even a combination of multiple things is required to completely treat this cancer.
During liver cancer treatment, surgery involves the removal of cancerous or tumour cells surrounding healthy tissue of the liver. This mainly is done in patients which exhibits good liver functions.
However, surgery cannot be considered as an option if excessive liver damage is observed and cannot be reversed. So a liver transplant or hepatic transplant is suggested to save the life of the patient during liver cancer treatment. It involves surgical removal of the damaged liver and replacing with a healthy donor liver. This process can be time-consuming until a matching liver is available from the family members.
Further, some medications are prescribed by the oncologist as therapy during recovery or waiting period as well.
Are the Indian hospitals equipped with everything it needs for cancer treatment?
Liver cancer treatment is successfully done in several hospitals in India. Several big cities in India has a multi-speciality hospital set up to take care of all sort of cancer cases. The hospitals are equipped with the latest technology, best-specialized doctors as well as well equipped wards and operation theatres. All sorts of cancer cases along with pancreatic and biliary complications can be taken care of by the well-experienced team of HPB and liver surgeons in India.
Indian hospitals provide the best of the treatment services at economic prices along with special facilities for their foreign patients.