Liver cancer symptoms and risk factors
In its early stages, liver cancer can be difficult to detect. Primary liver cancer does not tend to cause many predominant symptoms until the cancer is more advanced. It is important to be aware of liver cancer symptoms and risk factors.
Symptoms of primary liver cancer may include:
- jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)
- excessive fatigue or weakness
- loss of appetite
- unexplained weight loss
- pain in the right side of upper abdomen
It is best to see your doctor for review and investigation if you experience unexplained symptoms that worry you. They will ask you questions to help understand whether the cause of symptoms are liver cancer or another condition.
Liver cancer risk factors
A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of developing cancer. Although risk factors often influence the development of cancer, most do not directly cause cancer.
Some people with several risk factors never develop cancer, while others with no known risk factors do. Knowing your risk factors and talking about them with your doctor may help you make more informed lifestyle and healthcare choices.
Risk factors associated with developing liver cancer include:
- Smoking – people who smoke are at a higher risk of developing liver cancer.
- Chronic liver infection – liver cancer can develop after years of chronic infection with the hepatitis B or C virus.
- Cirrhosis – cirrhosis develops when liver cells are damaged and replaced with scar tissue. This can be caused by alcohol abuse, certain drugs and other chemicals or certain viruses or parasites.
- Gender – males are nearly three times more likely to get liver cancer than females. Males have a higher risk of contracting viral hepatitis and alcoholic cirrhosis.
- Obesity – high fat diet and being overweight has been linked to increased prevalence of liver cancer.
- Family history – people with a family history of liver cancer may be more likely to develop the disease.
- Age – liver cancer tends to be detected in people over the age of 60.
- Alcohol – drinking alcohol over a long period of time can cause increased risk of developing liver cancer.
> How liver cancer is diagnosed