What Is The Main Cause of Liver Cancer?
The liver serves as one of the most useful organs in the human body. It carries out many important functions that help sustain life and keep balance within the body. The liver does the following, among others:
- The liver is the organ that secretes bile juice, a crucial digestive enzyme.
- It also helps in converting any excess proteins into urea for excretion from the body by the kidneys. This is because the body cannot store excess proteins.
- Plasma proteins are also synthesized within the liver.
- In unborn babies, the liver is also involved in manufacturing, storing, and destroying red blood cells.
- Finally, the liver also aids in counteracting toxins in the body.
The importance of the liver is one that cannot be compared; this therefore means that development of liver complications can be a threat to human life.
What Really Causes Most Cases?
There are quite a number of triggering factors for liver cancer. Examples of such factors may include:
- Other underlying medical complications, such as Type 2 diabetes.
- Hereditary disorders of the liver such as hemochromatosis and tyrosinemia.
- Heavy consumption of alcoholic drinks over a long period of time.
- Increased old age. As you grow older you are more likely to develop complications that will result in liver cancer.
However, the main cause of liver cancer across most parts of the world is due to attacks from certain specific types of the hepatitis virus. These viruses include hepatitis B and hepatitis C better yet known as HBV and HCV respectively.
Hepatitis C is the major cause of live in the west (for example, in a country like the USA) while hepatitis B is more prevalent in Asian countries. Most people get infected by one of the viruses, but there are cases in which people can have both viral infections.
Such people are at a higher risk of getting liver cancer. This is because their likelihood of getting chronic hepatitis cirrhosis is way higher and this will eventually result to the growth of cancerous tissue in their livers.
Alcoholics also raise the stakes of their livers developing malignant tissues that are cancerous. You should note that hepatitis C is twice as likely to result to liver cancer as hepatitis B.
How Are The Hepatitis B and C Viruses Spread?
These two diseases are mostly transferred across people through body fluids such as blood and sexual fluids. This therefore means that you can get it through:
- Sharing needles (for example by drug users)
- During childbirth, a baby may get it from the mother
- Through unprotected sex
- Blood transfusion - if the blood is not screened before it is transfused
- Being in contact with an infected person over a prolonged period also makes you more susceptible to contracting the disease. This is especially so for children.
A point to note is that both hepatitis viruses are not transmitted through kissing, breastfeeding or sharing food and drinks with infected people.
Symptoms Related To the Cause of Liver Cancer
Hepatitis is the main cause of liver cancer. For you to be able to prevent liver cancer, it is important to prevent hepatitis in the first place. How can you determine whether you have hepatitis?
If symptoms of hepatitis B can be identified early enough, one will be better equipped deal with liver cancer. Here are some of those symptoms.
- Loss of appetite
- Changes in the color of your urine or feces
- Nausea or vomiting
- Abdominal pain
Not all patients experience these symptoms and in some cases do not feel any changes at all. However, if you experience them or feel as if you have been exposed to the virus, then seek medical attention immediately.
Hepatitis C often does not show symptoms in its early stages. When it does, it will mainly be in its chronic stage and the symptoms will be similar to those of Hepatitis B.
To ensure that you prevent the possibilities of having liver cancer, hepatitis should be diagnosed in time before it develops into cancerous cells.
Hepatitis B is usually diagnosed through physical examination, conducted by a qualified doctor; this can be accompanied with a blood test. If the condition is chronic, then a biopsy may be done to determine how severe it is.
Hepatitis C, on the other hand, requires more complex methods of diagnosis. First, blood is screened for presence of antibodies that fight HCV. If they are found present, then a test for the presence of HCV ribonucleic acid is done to check if the disease is in its chronic stage. A liver biopsy can then follow to check on the damage level the HCV has had on the liver. In most cases, diagnoses of hepatitis - especially if it is in the late stage - can help identify the risk liver cancer.
How Do I Treat HBV to Prevent Liver Cancer?
For HBV infected patients, the doctor may prescribe drugs that will help boost your immune system and thus help you fight the disease. This is mainly done for patients with chronic HBV.
There are also vaccines available for this type of hepatitis. They mostly help if you have been exposed to the virus within two weeks and also for new born babies to avoid transmission of the virus from the mother to the baby. If the baby does not receive keen medical attention he/she may end up getting extreme long-term liver complications.
HCV is also treated using drugs. Unfortunately for this type of hepatitis no vaccine has yet been discovered. There are patients who naturally get better within six months of infection. However this makes up less than twenty percent of the infected patients. The rest of the afflicted will have to seek medical attention.
If you receive treatment against hepatitis in good time before it develops, your risk of getting liver cancer is reduced.
Tips On Preventing Hepatitis B and C
- Get vaccinated against HBV if you are not yet infected.
- Always make use of condoms whenever you engage in sexual intercourse.
- If you are dealing with infected patients, ensure you put on protective gear such as gloves to avoid coming into contact with their body fluids such as blood.
- Blood should be screened first before it is transfused into a patient to avoid transmitting the virus.
- Avoid sharing of sharp instruments such as needle, ear piercing tools and razors.
The Bottom Line
HBV and HCV may not necessarily cause liver cancer. If they are diagnosed early enough, they can be treated and prevented from causing further damage to the liver. The goal of such a treatment may involve stopping them from causing further cirrhosis of the liver as this easily leads to liver cancer.
Patients should also quit smoking and drinking alcohol as they increase a person’s chances of getting liver cancer. Consult with your doctor on the various ways you can manage your disease until you have recovered completely.
Schedule regular check-ups to ensure that you are scanned for any recurrences of the condition; this also prevents any surprises from unforeseen cancer risings. If all this is done then you will be at a safer position.