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Types of liver cancers

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Metastatic, or secondary, liver tumors are those that have spread to the liver from another cancer elsewhere in the body. Because one of the liver's main functions is to filter blood for the entire body, cancer cells from other parts of the body may become lodged in the liver and develop into tumors. Metastatic liver tumours are largely silent until the disease is well advanced. Patients with metastatic colorectal tumours frequently die of hepatic failure due to liver metastases.

Hepatomegaly and abnormal liver function tests may reflect a systemic reaction to Hodgkin's disease rather than spread to the liver, and biopsy often shows nonspecific focal mononuclear infiltrates or granulomas of uncertain significance. Treatment is directed at the hematologic cancer. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC, also called hepatoma) is a primary malignancy (cancer) of the liver. Most cases are secondary to either hepatitis infection (usually hepatitis B or C) or cirrhosis (alcoholism being the most common cause of hepatic cirrhosis). Hepatitis B is the most common cause of serious liver disease and 1 in 10 Asian Americans (including Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians) have a life-long case of it. Watching and treating the disease can help avoid that.

Hepatocellular carcinoma (also known as hepatoma or HCC) is the most common type of liver cancer. It starts in the main cells of the liver called hepatocytes. Hepatitis B and C appear to be the most significant causes of hepatocellular carcinoma worldwide. People who have both hepatitis B and hepatitis C may be at a higher risk if they consume more than 3 oz. Hepatitis and alcohol both cause cirrhosis, and this itself is a risk factor for primary liver cancer. The reasons for the link between being overweight and increased risk of primary liver cancer are unclear.

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the top eight most common cancers in the world. It is, however, much more common outside the United States, representing 10% to 50% of malignancies in Africa and parts of Asia.

Cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver caused by hepatitis or alcohol abuse, can also increase liver cancer risk. But some risk factors for liver cancer aren't avoidable. Cirrhosis can be caused by infections like hepatitis B or C, or by drinking too much alcohol. Also people with diabetes have a higher risk of developing liver cancer.

Cases of liver cancer have tripled over the last three decades, according to figures published today by Britain's leading cancer charity. Statistics compiled by Cancer Research UK show that in 1975 there were 865 cases of primary liver cancer.

Treatment for children, however, is different than treatment for adults. Treatment options include liver transplantation, hepatic artery embolization and chemotherapy (also called chemoembolization), radiofrequency ablation, and cryoablation. For potentially respectable HCC the 5 year survival rate can be over 50%.

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