My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Ask Your Question

WebMD Answers

120 Characters remaining
120 Characters remaining
  • First, try and keep your question as short as possible.
  • Include specific words that will help us identify questions that may already have your answer.
  • If you don't find your answer, you can post your question to WebMD Experts and Contributors.

Close

Posted: | Report This Report Question |
 

Answers From Experts & Organizations (1)

8,020 Answers
284,391 Helpful Votes
334 Followers
A.

The liver continuously filters blood that circulates through the body, converting nutrients and drugs absorbed from the digestive tract into ready-to-use chemicals. The liver performs many other important functions, such as removing toxins and other chemical waste products from the blood and readying them for excretion. Because all the blood in the body must pass through it, the liver is unusually accessible to cancer cells traveling in the bloodstream.

The liver can be affected by primary liver cancer, which arises in the liver, or by cancer which forms in other sites and then spreads to the liver. Most liver cancer is secondary or metastatic, meaning it started elsewhere in the body. Primary liver cancer, which starts in the liver, accounts for about 2% of cancers in the U.S., but up to half of all cancers in some undeveloped countries. This is mainly because of the prevalence of hepatitis, caused by contagious viruses, that predisposes a person to liver cancer. Worldwide, primary liver cancer strikes twice as many men as women, making it the most common type of cancer in males, with it mostly affecting people over 50.

Because the liver is made up of several different types of cells, several types of tumors can form in the liver. Some of these are benign (noncancerous), and some are cancerous and can spread to other parts of the body (metastasize). These tumors have different causes and are treated differently. The outlook for your health or recovery depends on what type of tumor you have.

The more common benign tumors of the liver include:

  • Hemangioma
  • Hepatic adenoma
  • Focal nodular hyperplasia
  • Cysts
  • Lipoma
  • Fibroma
  • Leiomyoma

None of these tumors are treated like liver cancer. They may need to be removed surgically if they cause pain or bleeding.

Liver cancers include:

  • Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)
  • Cholangiocarcinoma (These are really cancers of the bile duct.)

This answer should not be considered medical advice...down arrowThis answer should not be considered medical advice and should not take the place of a doctor’s visit. Please see the bottom of the page for more information or visit our Terms and Conditions.up arrow

Posted:
| Report This Report Answer
Archived: March 20, 2014

Was this helpful?

YesNo

Thanks for your feedback.

1506 of 1681 found this helpful
Read the Original Article: Understanding Liver Cancer - Basic Information

Answers from Contributors (2)