What Is Carcinoma?
When you talk to an Oncologist to inform you on the types of cancer existent at the moment or visit the internet and search for the same, you will be surprised just how many are there. Thank God that the advancement seen in the field of technology has brought tremendous benefits to the medical field and now there is so much that can be done that could not be done many years back. We now know about many illnesses, and just now we are going to inform you about Carcinoma. Keep reading to be empowered by being informed.
Carcinoma is one of the various types of cancer that have been discovered. It affects Epithelial Cells or cells that line organs like the Liver and Kidneys. These cells usually develop abnormalities in their DNA, making them begin to multiply rapidly and abnormally thus becoming cancer cells.
One of the most common Liver cancer carcinoma is the Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC), also referred to as Hepatoma. This cancer affects men more than it does women and the likelihood of getting it increases with age. Other types of liver cancer carcinomas include:
- Fibrolamellar Carcinoma (a sub type of Hepatoma)
1. Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC)/Hepatoma
This cancer mostly originates within the Liver itself. It is classified as a primary Liver cancer. Hepatocellular Carcinoma is associated with Hepatocytes (the main cells that make up the liver), hence the name.
The main causes for HCC have not yet been well established but the condition has been observed to affect victims of Cirrhosis or other chronic diseases of the Liver. Some of the risk factors of this disease are discussed further down below:
- Heavy intake of alcohol. Frequent binge drinking of alcohol considerably raises a person’s chances of getting HCC.
- Hepatitis B and C. These two viruses have been known to potentially increase a victim’s chances of getting Hepatoma.
- Aflatoxins. This is a substance usually generated by fungi on grains and cereals such as wheat, corn, maize among others. Consumption of such foods introduces the Aflatoxins into your body and this makes you more likely to get Hepatoma.
- Obesity. Obese people may develop the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and this puts them at a potentially higher risk of developing HCC.
The symptoms of HCC mostly begin to appear when the cancer has advanced. You may experience some of the following:
- Loss of body weight
- Color changes in urine and feces
- General body weakness
- Development of a swell in your stomach
- Loss of appetite
In diagnosing Hepatoma, the doctor may carry out a number of tests and ask you questions about the symptoms you may be experiencing. The tests may include blood tests, imaging tests or a liver biopsy. A liver biopsy involves removal of a sample tissue from your liver for observation of cancer cells.
This type of cancer is in most cases incurable. But this should not discourage the patient as there are various treatment options that are used in managing it. New treatment options are still under research.
You should discuss with your doctor on the available choices of how to manage the condition. This will help to clear any doubts or uncertainties that you may have concerning the disease. Some of the options you may be offered may include radiotherapy, chemotherapy, surgery and a liver transplant. Liver transplant is the option that may offer the most chance at getting cured.
Patients of this condition also require a lot of support especially from their family. This will help them cope better with the situation. The doctors may also advise that the patient joins support groups or attends therapy sessions if the condition seems to affect them psychologically.
2. Fibrolamellar Carcinoma
This is a rare type of Hepatoma. It mostly affects young people and it manifests itself in the fibrous tissue of the Liver. Its causes are still unclear but are being investigated.
Diagnosis of this type of cancer is difficult because it does not exhibit symptoms. Therefore, on most occasions it is discovered after it has advanced and manifested itself in advanced stages.
One of the main treatments used in dealing with this disease is surgery. This has been found to exhibit better results for Fibrolamellar patients than victims of Hepatocellular Carcinoma. More studies are being undertaken to know more about this disease.
This is another type of cancer and it attacks the bile ducts. The bile ducts are tubes that are used to connect the small intestines with the gall bladder. They therefore offer a channel for the delivery of bile from the gall bladder to the small intestines to aid in digestion.
Cholangiocarcinoma is not very common and on most occasions the tumor originates within the bile ducts. The cancer can also be as a result of the spread of other cancers to the bile ducts. Some of its symptoms may include:
- Pain in the abdomen
- Reduced weight
A victim may also experience a change in the color of their feces or urine, and also get unusual results when tests are done to determine the Liver function.
Risk Factors and Diagnosis
Research has not yet certified whether there are specific risk factors for Cholangiocarcinoma but the most commonly considered potential risk factors include the following:
- Invasion of the liver by parasites such as liver flukes
- Chronic liver diseases
- Inflammation of the bile duct
Usually, doctors will take out sample cells from the affected part and then study them to see if they are cancerous cells. Obtainment of the tissue for study can be done through surgery. Imaging of the bile ducts and endoscopy are other ways that can be used to provide more insight into the state of the disease.
The treatment of this condition is extremely difficult as most patients get diagnosed with the disease when it is already in its advanced stages. When it reaches this point, it becomes incurable.
The only thing that can be done is to manage its spread through cancer treatment methods such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy. If it is detected early enough, surgery can be used to remove the tumors and enable complete healing of the patient.
Survival Rates for Liver Cancer Patients
The survival rates are simply estimates that try to predict the chances of how long a patient may survive if he/she has liver cancer. Note that these are just mere estimates and it is possible for a patient to live longer than the estimated time.
According to research, the estimated survival rates for every 100 people with liver cancer are as follows:
- For the first year, liver cancer patients have a survival rate of 44%.
- For those who have had the cancer for 5 years, their survival rate is 17%.
- Patients who get diagnosed early have a 5-year survival rate of 31%.
- If the cancer has spread to the surrounding regions then the 5 year survival rate reduces to 11%.
- If it has further spread to distant parts of the body, the 5 year survival rate further decreases to 3%.
The Bottom Line
Liver Cancer carcinoma is an extremely serious health problem that requires good medical care. If you are diagnosed with any type of liver cancer carcinoma, ensure you also get regular check-ups and tests done even after treatment so as to monitor your liver.
This will help in early detection if the cancer returns back or if it appears to be persistent and has not been cured yet. Friends and family should also be supportive and help patients cope with the problem.