October is also Liver Cancer Awareness!
The American Cancer Society’s estimates for primary liver cancer and intrahepatic bile duct cancer in the United States for 2017 are:
- About 40,710 new cases (29,200 in men and 11,510 in women) will be diagnosed
- About 28,920 people (19,610 men and 9,310 women) will die of these cancers
Liver cancer incidence has more than tripled since 1980. However, rates in young adults have recently begun to decline. Liver cancer death rates have increased by almost 3% per year since 2000. Liver cancer is seen more often in men than in women.
The Following are a few main types of Liver Cancer:
Hepatocellular carcinoma (hepatocellular cancer)
This is the most common form of liver cancer in adults.
Hepatocellular cancer (HCC) can have different growth patterns:
- Some begin as a single tumor that grows larger. Only late in the disease does it spread to other parts of the liver.
- A second type seems to start as many small cancer nodules throughout the liver, not just a single tumor. This is seen most often in people with cirrhosis (chronic liver damage) and is the most common pattern seen in the United States.
Using a microscope, doctors can distinguish several subtypes of HCC. Most often these subtypes do not affect treatment or prognosis (outlook). But one of these subtypes, fibrolamellar, is important to recognize. This type is rare, making up less than 1% of HCCs. This type is most often seen in women younger than age 35, and often the rest of the liver is not diseased. This subtype generally has a better outlook than other forms of HCC.
Here “liver cancer” is hepatocellular carcinoma.
Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer)
About 10% to 20% of cancers that start in the liver are intrahepatic cholangiocarcinomas. These cancers start in the cells that line the small bile ducts (tubes that carry bile to the gallbladder) within the liver. (Most cholangiocarcinomas actually start in the bile ducts outside the liver.)
Although the rest of this document deals mainly with hepatocellular cancers, cholangiocarcinomas are often treated the same way.
Angiosarcoma and hemangiosarcoma
These are rare cancers that begin in cells lining the blood vessels of the liver. People who have been exposed to vinyl chloride or to thorium dioxide (Thorotrast) are more likely to develop these cancers. See the section ” Live Cancer Risk Factors” Some other cases are thought to be caused by exposure to arsenic or radium, or to an inherited condition known as hereditaryhemochromatosis. In about half of all cases, no likely cause can be identified.
These tumors grow quickly and are usually too widespread to be removed surgically by the time they are found. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may help slow the disease, but these cancers are usually very hard to treat. These cancers are treated like other sarcomas.
This is a very rare kind of cancer that develops in children, usually in those younger than 4 years old. The cells of hepatoblastoma are similar to fetal liver cells. About 2 out of 3 children with these tumors are treated successfully with surgery and chemotherapy, although the tumors are harder to treat if they have spread outside the liver.
- Chronic Viral Hepatitis
- Fatty Liver Disease
- Heavy Alcohol Use
- Anabolic Steroids
- Tobacco Use
Your Cancer Care team should be your first point of contact if you think you may have Liver cancer. Contact us here at Charleston Hematology and Oncology Associates at 843-577-6957 for more information about becoming one of our patients.
*Information taken from the American Cancer Society Website.*